Mashike: The Fruit Kingdom of Nishi-Ezo
Mashike has been widely known for its seafood and refined rice wine; however, approximately 50 orchards with a total area of 120 hectares are also located here. Thanks to good growing conditions such as clean water from Mount Shokanbetsu-dake, well-drained lands, and the large difference in temperature between night and day, Mashike can grow a variety of fruit: apples, cherries, pears, grapes, peaches, strawberries, plums and prunes. There are many orchards which are open for self-picking. You can buy artisinal products such as juice, jam, ice cream, fruit wine and so on at the many farm stands. Some of the other towns and villages in Nishi-Ezo also grow fruit, for example Obira produces wine grapes.
The Rice of Nishi-Ezo
Among 8 municipalities in Rumoi Subprefecture, all municipalities except Teshio are engaged in rice farming. 5 municipalities in the southern part of the subprefecture grow “uruchi-mai” (non-glutinous rice), and 2 municipalities in the northern section grow “mochi-gome” (glutinious rice). Enbetsu is the northernmost town in Japan where rice is grown. The total crop acreage of rice in Rumoi Subprefecture in 2104 was approximately 4,500 hectares. 90% of all rice harvested here consists of two major brands; “Nanatsu-boshi” (Seven Stars) and “ Yume-Pirika” (Dream Beauty). “Ginpu”, which is suitable for making sake, and “Kita-Kurin”, a reduced agrochemical rice, are also produced here. Rice grown in Nishi-Ezo is well known for its high quality and flavor. Although the yield of rice here is limited, it has received awards several times, and the flavor has a high reputation among rice sommeliers.
“Nanatsu-boshi” (Seven Stars): Three Time Consecutive Gold Medal Winner at the National Flavor-Analysis Contest.
Extra Hard Wheat “Rururosso”
The “Rumoi-Brand Wheat Promotion Project” was launched in 2008, and its persistent efforts resulted in the success of “Rururosso”. Rururosso is an extra-hard type of wheat which is grown only in Rumoi and is similar to durum wheat , the well-known type that is used in pasta. Rururosso is not sold in the national market regularly. Young producers of JA (Japan Agriculture Cooporatives), a local noodle manufacturing company, and local cafes and restaurants have developed a cooperative relationship, and their collaboration made it possible to produce and sell raw pasta which is made of Rururosso, beginning in 2011. Since then other products such as dry pasta, bags of Rururosso flour, and an alcoholic beverage similar to unrefined sake have been commercialized. The unique appeal of Rururosso pasta lies in its rich taste and ability to maintain a good texture even after boiling.
A Field of Rururosso