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Premium Japanese rice, eaten by Pope / Mikohara Rice, Josen Takano

by Hiroki Yanagisawa on November 21, 2009 3:42 PM

Mikohara Rice/神子原米

Mikohara Rice, literally translates to "Rice from a highland where the son of God dwell", is known for one of the premium rices available in the market. It is also known as a rice, eaten by Pope.
Made from Hakui City in Ishikawa prefecture, located 400km northwest of Tokyo, the city is known for having a wide gap of temperature during a day and night and clean water, which is an optimum condition for rice farming.

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Josen Takano, a Hakui City Hall employee, an ex-TV scenario writer in Tokyo, is the one who has turned one of many mundane and struggling rural municipals into the center of the world's attention.

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Hakui City has been known for accommodating many "Genkai Shuraku", literary translates into a Limited Village. What it means is that due to a village's low birthrate and aging population, the village will eventually lose its entire population.

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Too curve such trend, Josen thought that a sustainable business model in the city need to be established urgently to bring more people in the city. In 2005, Josen established a new department in the City Hall to tackle this issue. Mikohara Rice, back then, was mostly sold to Zen Noh, a joint organization for farmers in Japan, and its selling price was JPY225. Unless you mass produce, it was impossible to sustain a farmer's living with sole rice farming.

Josen saw the potention of Mikohara Rice and he wrote a letter to the Embassy of Vatican in Japan, stating an association of rice's name and holiness. Weeks later, there was a call from the embassy, saying that the Counsel-General is strongly interested in this matter. Josen packed bags of harvested rice in suit cases and delivered the holy rice. The Counsel-General promised to bring the rice to Pope as one of the holy gifts from Japan.

This incident caught eyes of media, and eventually to the public. The City Hall began receiving many phone calls, requesting to sell the holy rice. The city established a Business to Consumer linkage by utilizing FAX and internet orders. With a power of brand, the rice now sells JPY700 per kilogram. Almost 3 times of the Zen-Noh price.

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Because of this holy effect, a change in the town's population is occurring. Some of the twenties, who was aspired by the story of Mikohara Rice, began relocating themselves to Hakui. Though its number is fairly small now, this is a great starting point to curve the trend of Genkai Shuraku.

Josen is currently working on the reform of fishing industry.


Besides Mikohara Rice, Marebito, a premium Japanese sake, made from Mikohara Rice, is also available.

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PRICE
Mikohara Rice
Mikohara Rice 30kg: JPY18,000
Mikohara Rice 10kg: JPY5,500
Mikohara Rice 5kg: JPY3,500
Mikohara Rice 2kg: JPY1,600
*excluding tax and shipping.
Available from:
Mikonosato

Marebito 720ml: JPY33,600
*excluding tax and shipping.
Available from:
Nakamura Shuzou

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