Video "Hokuryu-machi Rice with the Spirit of Rice" Hokkaido's Food to Inherit 2020

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

We have compiled this report on the history, spirit, and activities of Sunflower Rice, a rice produced in the town of Hokuryu, based on our interview materials from 2010 to 2020.

Based on this article, a video of "Rice Spirit Dwells in Hokuryu-machi Omusubi" was created. This video was submitted to the "2020 'Food of Hokkaido to Inherit' Video Contest" sponsored by the Hokkaido Agricultural Administration Office.

Table of Contents

About Hokuryu Town (Hokkaido)

The town of Hokuryu, where agriculture is a core industry and sunflowers are the symbol of the town.

It is a small town with a population of approximately 1,750. It is 28 km east to west and 14 km north to south, with a total area of 158.70 square kilometers. 70% of the total area is covered by mountains and forests, and rice paddy cultivation accounts for nearly 90% of the arable land.

sunflower rice

In 1988, the agricultural cooperative youth club began to reduce the use of agricultural chemicals in the cultivation of Sunflower Rice, the Hokuryu Town brand rice. In 2004, all farmers reduced pesticide use to 50% of the conventional level.

In 2006 (Heisei 18), the company acquired JAS certification for Agricultural Products with Production Information Disclosure, introducing a system that ensures producer traceability.

Awarded the 46th Japan Agricultural Award Grand Prize (Grand Prize in 2017) for the Hokuryu Sunflower Rice Production Cooperative's efforts to reduce agricultural chemicals, as well as the united efforts of the town of Hokuryu, including the agricultural cooperative, producers, town office, and chamber of commerce and industry, to promote sales.

Winner of the 46th Japan Agricultural Award Grand Prize (Grand Prize Winner 2017)Photo courtesy of NHK

The spirit of rice cultivation of our predecessors, "the spirit of agriculture to protect the lives of the people," being passed down from generation to generation.

The spirit of rice cultivation of our predecessors, "the spirit of agriculture to protect the lives of the people," being passed down from generation to generation.

In May 1893, a pioneer group of 25 households led by Shoichiro Yoshiue, who came from Nobara Village, Inba County, Chiba Prefecture, laid the groundwork for the development of the Hokuryu area.

Shoichiro Yoshiue, "Agriculture is the foundation of the nation."

Shoichiro Yoshiue's spirit of "Agriculture is the foundation of the nation" was passed down in Honno Village, and then in the pioneer town of Hokuryu, as the spirit of agriculture that protects the lives of the people, and was subsequently passed down to successive heads of agricultural cooperatives,

Kiyoshi Kitamasa, "An Industrial Union by Farmers for Farmers"

Mr. Kiyoshi Kitamasa advocated "an industrial union by farmers for farmers,

Mr. Mitsuo Goto, "Safe Food Production for the People"

Mr. Mitsuo Goto dedicated his life to "safe food production for the people,

Ryoji Kikura, "Food is Life

The spirit of "Food is Life," which was firmly upheld by Ryoji Kikura, former representative director of JA Kitasorachi, continues to be advocated by the association.

Hokuryu Town "A town with a declaration of safe food production that protects the lives and health of the people."

In October 1990 (Heisei 2), the Board of Agriculture established the "Hokuryu-cho Agricultural Committee Charter", and in November of the same year, the Hokuryu Land Improvement District declared "Protect Water, Protect Greenery, Protect Land". And in December of the same year, Hokuryu Town (Mayor Shoichi Mori) declared "a town that declares safe food production to protect the lives and health of the people!

Thus, the Farmers' Assembly, the Agricultural Cooperative Youth Club, the Agricultural Committee, the Land Improvement District, and the Hokuryu Town Hall all joined together to resolve to make Hokuryu "a town of safe food production that protects the lives and health of the people," and the entire Hokuryu community worked as one for agriculture that protects the lives of the people.

「天と地と水 そして農民のこころ」書道の大家・島田無響氏の書・写真の左から:後藤三男八氏(5代組合長)、北政清氏(初代組合長)、加地彦太郎氏の胸像
Heaven, Earth, Water, and the Farmer's Heart," calligraphy by Muhyo Shimada, a Japanese master calligrapher.
(From left to right) busts of Mitsuo Goto (5th head of the union), Masakiyo Kita (first head of the union), and Hikotaro Kaji

Phrase monument "Heaven, Earth, Water, and Farmer's Heart" (on the premises of JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu Branch Office)

句碑「天と地と水 そして農民の心」(JAきたそらち北竜支所 敷地内)
Phrase monument "Heaven, Earth, Water, and Farmer's Heart" (on the premises of JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu Branch Office)

Ryoji Kikura (former president of JA Kitasorachi), the soul of "Food is Life" in the words of Mr. Kikura

Ryoji Kikura, former president of JA Kitasorachi

In this village, there were two outstanding leaders, Masakiyo Kita and Mitsuo Goto, who inherited the spirit of Shoichiro Yoshiue. In particular, I was taught by Masakiyo Kita and Mitsuo Goto: 'Farming is to produce safe food for human beings, and don't forget that. Don't forget that. He told me this hundreds and thousands of times.

Our agriculture is to conserve water, to protect the abundance of water, and not to allow the farmland we have inherited to be polluted or degraded.

And we believe that only when these are combined with the soul of the farmer, the soul of the passionate peasant who is grateful to heaven, earth, and water for protecting your life, can we produce food that can protect human life.

Hokuryu Town has inherited this agriculture for 128 years in a unbroken line. I believe that young people will continue to carry on the agriculture that protects lives," said Ryoji Kikura enthusiastically.

Paddy rice cultivation to protect the lives of the people

Hot water sterilization equipment for paddy rice seed rice (state-of-the-art facility at JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu Branch Office)

JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu Branch Office started a service in 2012 that uses a paddy rice seed rice hot water sterilization device that does not use pesticides. This hot water sterilization equipment allows precise control of hot water temperature and sterilization time, thereby maintaining germination rates.

Paddy rice hot water sterilization equipment

rice planting

rice planting

Rice paddies dyed green

Rice paddies dyed green

Rice fields shining in golden colors

Rice fields shining in golden colors

Ears of rice growing in abundance

Ears of rice growing in abundance

rice harvesting

rice harvesting

Color sorter (JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu Branch Office, Brown rice bulk adjustment and collection facility)

Sunflower Rice from Hokuryu Town is safe and secure, grown with reduced pesticides, and its quality and lots are strictly controlled by a modern computerized facility.

A color sorter shines light on the brown rice to sort and remove colored grains, immature grains, damaged grains, dead rice, crushed grains, stones, glass, plastic, metal fragments, and other foreign matter. Finally, a powerful magnetic tetz catcher removes metal fragments that may come from equipment, etc., to ensure that all is well.

After sorting, the rice is placed in a preparation tank and then packaged by an automatic bag feeder.

Color Sorter

Ensuring traceability through JAS certification of agricultural products for which production information is disclosed

First paddy rice cultivation collective organization in Japan to receive certification

The Hokuryu Sunflower Rice Production Cooperative (currently about 145 households) obtained JAS certification in 2006 (Heisei 18) for "Agricultural Products with Production Information Disclosure," which ensures traceability of production information (a system that enables confirmation of production history). This system allows anyone to know who cultivated the rice, in which rice paddies, and with what pesticides.

As a collective organization for paddy rice cultivation, we are the first in Japan to obtain JAS certification for agricultural products with publicly disclosed production information.

Promote pesticide-reduced rice and specially cultivated rice

In 2016 (2016), the planted area of pesticide-saving rice, specially cultivated rice, and organically grown rice will exceed 90% of the total.

In 2016, the company began growing and selling "Kitakurin" with 80% less pesticides.

Currently, the amount of hometown tax donations exceeds 500 million yen, and 98% of the returned goods are Sunflower Rice.

Message on a bag of rice
Detailed production history is available on the Internet.

Sunflower Rice" sales promotion activities delivered by producers themselves to consumers

With Mayor Yutaka Sano as the sales leader, the producers themselves are actively engaged in rice sales promotion activities to promote their products to consumers.

Yumouya food supermarket, Taichung, Taiwan

The Beilong Town Product Exhibition was held in 2017 at the Yumouya food supermarket in Taichung, Taiwan.

Beilong Town Product Exhibition" at Yumouya food supermarket in Taichung City, Taiwan

Sapporo, Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza Sapporo

Great Service! Rice scooping!

Supermarket Sunplaza Habigaoka, Osaka, Japan

Rice sales promotion activities by Agri-Fighter North Dragons in Osaka (Supermarket Sunplaza Habikigaoka)

Supermarket Sunplaza Habigaoka

Enjoying New Rice "Hekisui Support Group Mothers' Omusubi

New Rice Omusubi Enjoyment Party

A party was held at the Hekisui Community Support Center (Hokuryu-cho) to give thanks for this year's new rice, and to taste "new rice omusubi" made by mothers who are members of the Hekisui Support Group.

Mayor Yutaka Sano and Hekisui Support Group Chairman Yasuo Yamamoto and Secretary General Susumu Asano were invited to join everyone in enjoying the blissful taste of new rice omusubi.

The mothers who cooperated with us also volunteer to make lunch boxes for the Hekisui Support Group's monthly luncheon for the elderly who live alone. We would like to express our sincere appreciation.

New Hokkaido style, well controlled masks and disinfection.

The new Hokkaido style is a solid measure!

Mother's rice balls made with love

Transfer the rice from the rice cooker to a sushi tub and remove from heat.

Transfer it to a tub!

Sprinkle salt on freshly cooked rice

Sprinkle with salt!

Softly, firmly and lovingly!

Mother's rice balls made with love!

Place a piece of plastic wrap over a bowl of rice to make it uniform in size.

Unify the size!

With salted rice balls!

New rice omusubi are "salted" musubi without any garnish in order to firmly taste the taste of rice!

Blissful taste of salted musubi!

To make it easier to eat, garnish with nori (dried seaweed).

Served with nori (seaweed)!

A taste of bliss!

Freshly cooked new rice has shiny grains!
Softly and firmly held, mom's omusubi are bliss!

Soft, moist, and exquisite, Mom's Omusubi!

Nigohachi pickles & making miso

Nigohachi pickles "Umaizo Gen-chan" is a pickling ingredient made from brown rice, rice malt, and salt, produced by the Fumi no Kai, a group of Hokuryu-machi mothers.

In addition, miso "Mothers' Handmade Miso" is handmade miso made by mothers in the group to the Hokuryu Town Soybean Processing Study Group.

Vegetable pickles are pickled with Nigohachi pickles "Umaizo Gen-chan". Miso soup is handmade miso by my mother.

二五八漬け「うまいぞ 玄ちゃん」の漬物の素&お母さんの手作り味噌
Nigohachi pickles "Umaizo Gen-chan" pickles & mom's homemade miso

With pickled ume plum, 258 pickled vegetables, and miso soup!

With miso soup and 258 pickles!

Yum! The best!!!

Hokuryu-machi's new rice rice balls are lovingly made by mothers!
I will take it with gratitude!

Mom's omusubi, delicious!
Mayor Sano also praises the taste!
Yum! The best!!!!"

Mom's Omusubi Yum! The best!

Four Seasons in Hokuryu Town that Nurture the Spirit of Rice

Spring", where life sprouts

Spring", where life sprouts

Sunflowers shine in "Summer

Sunflowers shine in "Summer

Autumn" in golden color

Rice fields dyed in golden colors

Winter" spreads a world of white and silver

Winter" spreads a world of white and silver

Sunflower Rice in Hokuryu Town, where the spirit of rice dwells

Hokuryu-cho continues to pour its soul into rice production with its "pioneer spirit" in pioneering, "food is life" spirit in protecting safe and secure food, and "united power of harmony.

These three spirits are incorporated in the rice balls lovingly made by Hokuryu-machi mothers and passed on to their children, who will be the future leaders of Hokuryu-machi.

With heartfelt thanks to the sunflower rice from Hokuryu Town, where the spirit of the rice plant dwells.

With heartfelt thanks to the sunflower rice from Hokuryu Town, where the spirit of the rice plant dwells.

Video "Sunflower Rice in Hokuryu Town, Where the Spirit of Rice Dwells

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◇ Photography and Editing: Noboru Terauchi Reporting and Writing: Ikuko Terauchi