Yuzu: the fruit that made a village famous

This citrus fruit was brought from China long time ago. It almost looks like an orange, but its thick yellow peel is rough and irregular. It’d a difficult fruit to harvest because of the sharp long thorns on the tree. Moreover, its taste is hardly delicious. It’s Yuzu.

“I can’t eat this! It’s too sour!” a 5-year-old boy says. “I want a sweeter one!”

Certainly, it may be very sour for children who eat sushi which made with Yuzu.

“Don’t hesitate to eat them. You will never become adult,” his mother says.

“No!!!!” little boy cries.

Actually, Yuzu is too sour and hard for young children to enjoy in its natural state.

“It’s a piece of cake. Hey! Eat it,” his mother says again.

Then the little boy decides not to eat Yuzu ever, but Yuzu is very important to the economy of Umaji.

Many years ago, fugitive clan of the Taira family planted Yuzu in the place which would become Umaji village.

Umaji is in the countryside, so the air and water is very clear, and it makes Yuzu’s quality good. Its floral citrus fragrance amazingly, and it is used as spice like Yuzukosho and Yuzunomura which is famous kind of ponzu in Japan.

In 1955, one person decided to make products from Yuzu. He struggled to develop Umaji. His name was Toutani who worked for Agricultural Cooperatives in Umaji village. At that time, Yuzu was harvested a lot in Kochi prefecture. Then Mr.Toutani thought to process it commercially. There was a Yuzu drink which required diluting before drinking, but it must have been bother to do every time. He thought it was hard to sell and needed another product which costs 100 yen. He started to develop it.

Then he decided to make drink which contains Yuzu and honey. It took 3 months to develop. After that, he began to name that drink, but he couldn’t decide. One day, sample bottles of drink were brought. They looked like milk bottles which mouth was big. It makes possible to drink at once. Suddenly, the idea came to him. “How about Gokkun mura?” he asked, but it didn’t sound good, so he thought to add the name of their small village called “Umaji” to “Gokkun”. The name of the drink was decided called “Gokkun Umajimura”. It was loved a lot of people including locals. In 1995, “Gokkun Umajimura” received the Asahi Agricultural Prize, and it was sold 4 million bottles in 1999. “Gokkun Umajimura” is still loved many people now.

“Oh! It’s tasty, mom!” the little boy says, and crazies about it.

The drink is “Gokkun Umajimura.” The boy’s smile makes shopper smiling, and the shopper gives him another bottle of “Gokkun Umajimura.”

“Thank you very much!” the boy says, and his mother says “It is made from Yuzu.”

Then the boy likes Yuzu.

Umaji Yuzu is wanted and needed by many countries. “Yuzunomura” which is famous kind of ponzu in Japan is loved by a lot of people all over the world. It smells and tastes good. When the “Yuzunomura” opens, the great smells of Yuzu come from the mouth of its bottle. It smells fresh and sour, so it can be used rich food like deep-fried chicken not only Nabe.

Umaji’s orchards as small, less than 200 hectare, but the sales volume is the best in Kochi. Six out of ten of the best selling Yuzu products in Kochi prefecture come from Umaji.

Umaji village is beautiful place with clean air and clear water. The agricultural products and food must be tasty and good quality. Umaji is located in a forest, but it should be expected by all people to lead Kochi Yuzu industry and make new products.

Now, farmers in Umaji grow Yuzu organically and use organic fertilizer not chemical fertilizer to make good lands for Yuzu. Agricultural Cooperatives of Umaji wants a lot of people to know and taste their original Yuzu, so they are struggling to make new products every single day. Recently, they sell toiletries not only foods. They are good products for the little boy and his mother to know how wonderful Yuzu is.

Finally, little boy comes to like Yuzu, and it should become key point of his life in the future. When the sun goes down into the mountain, little boy and the mother go home. They will never forget to visit the village called “Umaji.”

–Masahito Kiyose



  1. It is nice to know how Gokkun Umajimura was born. I haven’t tried it yet, so I want to drink to !


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