Dairy products are integral to everyday eating habits, and when talking about dairy products in Japan, you cannot leave out Hokkaido. Japan’s national dairy output in 2013 was 7,447,032 tons, of which 3,848,584 tons were produced in Hokkaido, representing 51.7 percent of the total for the entire nation. As the dairy production powerhouse of Japan, it is not surprising to learn that Hokkaido is where the first full-scale production of cheese took place in Japan.

 In 1869, the Land Development Bureau, or Kaitakushi, was established with the aim of opening up Hokkaido to development. Proposed by Edwin Dun, an American who was invited to Japan as a technical agricultural instructor, Makomanai Farm was founded. Along with products that had not previously been available in Japan such as butter and condensed milk, cheese was produced for the first time at the farm. By the 1980s, high quality farmer-produced cheese had been thoroughly established, and cheese factories continued to increase across Hokkaido. Today, there are over 110 factories and dairy plants in the region’s numerous dairy production heartlands.

Hokkaido’s vast cheese output is possible thanks to the land’s suitability to raw milk production, and Hokkaido cheese is now highly ranked in competitions both domestically and abroad. With so many factories, there are many unique brands to choose from to find a new favorite.

Hokkaido is also the number one producer of grapes used for winemaking. With a winemaking history that spans 130 years, Hokkaido has many wineries, making it possible to enjoy cheese and wine together.

Cheese manufacturing in Hokkaido has mainly been based on western methods to date. However, there have been recent efforts to develop a Hokkaido original manufacturing method. Blessed with natural features and a rich pool of manufacturers for cheese production, continue to expect even more delicious cheese from Hokkaido.

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