Hokkaido’s Harvest Scenery: Autumn Edition
Hokkaido is known as Japan's food base, and is a treasure trove of a wide variety of foods, such as agricultural and livestock products, seafood, wine, sake and beer.
Autumn – from September to November – is the harvest season for fruits, potatoes and other root vegetables, rice, buckwheat and the like. It is also when marine products such as salmon and Pacific saury are landed.
We have gathered together some ‘taste of autumn’ harvest scenery, much anticipated by the people of Hokkaido.
Harvesting of ‘highest quality’ Kamifurano hops reaches peak
The harvesting of the cone-shaped flowers of hops, which are used to make beer, is reaching its peak in the town of Kamifurano in northern Hokkaido. The hops grow on vines that extend to a height of approximately 5.5 meters and hang like green curtains from ropes at the farm, where the air is filled with a refreshing scent peculiar to beer.
Hops are a perennial plant of the Cannabaceae family and are one of the ingredients that determine the flavor and aroma of beer. At Osumi’s farm, four varieties including the ‘Furano Special’ variety – which can be used raw without being dried – are grown, and harvesting began on August 18. The Furano Special variety was harvested on August 31st, using a machine to remove the pine-cone-shaped hops from the vine and sort them before packing into bags for shipping.
The size of the hops and the amount harvested are both said to be smaller than usual due to the high temperatures and lack of rain in June and July this year but, even so, Mr. Osumi smiled as he said “I’m glad I was able to harvest them without experiencing any problems or diseases; they are of the highest quality.”
According to the Sapporo Breweries Hokkaido Ingredients Research Group, the hops were cultivated on a total of 4.8 hectares of land at four farms in the town, including that of Mr. Osumi. In the 1960s, approximately 100 farms in the Furano region produced hops, but the number is said to have decreased due to mechanization.