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In the northern part of Honshu in Japan sits Aomori prefecture. The Ou mountains that range from the south to the north separates this region from east to west. The western area near the Sea of Japan is called Tsugaru, and the eastern side near the Pacific ocean is called Kennan.

It rarely snows in Aomori prefecture, so Kennan is known to have one of the biggest cargo unloading zones, called Hachinohe, and Tsugaru is known to have Japan’s biggest production of apples. Precipitation is high, making this the perfect place for apples to grow because of the resulting green and fertile soil.

The person responsible for making apples in Aomori so prosperous is an English missionary named John Ing. In April of 1875, three young types of trees in Tokyo were planted widely throughout the prefectural capitals. This is also when the first western European apples arrived in Japan. In the same 1875, there are records that an English teacher at a private school in Hirosaki city called John Ing passed out apples to his students and Christian followers bringing attention to the great taste of the fruit. Ing also imported apples and other vegetable plants, and Kuro Kikuchi, the headmaster at the time, planted them in his garden. This eventually turned into another form of large-scale cultivation as well. From there, with the hard work and selective breeding of farmers, apples came to grow successfully in Aomori prefecture. In 1962, the Fuji apple, which was to become the most popular apple in Japan, was born in Fujisaki machi in Aomori prefecture. Today, Fuji apples are exported outside Japan to other countries such as China, Korea, North America, and Australia, and results from a 2001 study show that more Fuji apples are grown around the world than any other variety. What makes these apples so popular is their juiciness and their eye-opening sweet smell. Fuji apples have won countless Grand Prix prizes at competitions and exhibitions around the world.

The World’s heaviest apple as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records in 2005 is a Hokuto apple (1,849 grams), grown in Hirosaki city in Aomori prefecture. The Hokuto apple is a hybrid of the Fuji and Matsu apple breeds.

In Japan、there is a saying that goes: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This saying is used throughout the world, but Japanese people in particular eat apples with steady regularity. Apple products regularly consumed in Japan include not just raw apples but apple jam, dried apples, apple wine and apple pie as well. Apples are so popular that recently, apple vinegar mixed with water, soda, or milk has become its own particular trend within a certain healthy subset of the population.

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Photo by usagi

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