Nijusseiki (20th century) Pear
Former Koda-cho, former Yoshida-cho, and former Mukaihara-cho in
Takata-gun, and former Sakugi Village in Futami-gun(present Akitakata City,
Miyoshi City) have been known as Hiroshima Prefecture's leading pear
production sites since before World War II. Pear growing started at the foot of
a mountain in Shimokobara, Koda-cho, and production spread into neighboring
areas. In 1899, the inhabitants of Koda-cho embarked on pear growing in an
attempt to break with conventional subsistence farming, which relied heavily on
Junichi Shigeto took the lead in clearing the forests and planting pears and
other fruits trees. Later, in 1904, he cleared 40 hectares of land and planted
strains of pears including Nijusseiki, Chojuro and Shinchu. Chojuro and
Shinchu were rather rare strains at that time. In 1906, on Junichi's 42nd
birthday, he distributed young pear plants to all the students of the elementary
schools in Koda-cho, thereby encouraging pear planting in the village. By about
1920, he owned fruit gardens totalling 1.5 hectares.
Noboru Okuhisa, who became mayor of Takata-gun in 1924, was impressed
by Junichi's fruit gardens and began to promote pear production. Okushita
thought that pears would bring prosperity to villages. As a result, about one
hundred farmers in Oda, Koda-cho had 50-hectares of fruit gardens engaging in
pear production before World War II.
After the war, pear production declined somewhat in Koda-cho. In 1955,
however, production increased. Koda-cho now stands as a main sight-seeing
spot for fruit lovers in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Pear picking gardens can be found here and there in the area (Photograph taken circa 1994)
Pears have been cultivated in Japan for centuries. One record shows that Emperor Jito ordered each province in Japan to grow pears.
Nijusseiki Pear originally came from Chiba Prefecture. The fruit was brought to Tottori Prefecture, Hiroshima's neighboring prefecture, in 1904.