Golden diamonds

In the south of Kansai lies the Wakayama region. The mountainous area is one of the three main producing sites of mandarins in Japan. Wakayama benefits from the Kuroshio ocean current which brings warm water from the Philippines to Japan's east coast. Mild weather, stony soil and slopes are perfect conditions for growing mandarins. Vineyards easily come to mind. Mandarin growers speak of "three suns" that are needed for delicious mandarins: the sun in the sky, the sun reflected by the sea, and the sun that warms the stone walls in the mandarin orchards. The variety of citrus fruits in Japan is amazing. From about 900 species worldwide, Japan alone has about one hundred. Satsuma, Tankan, Juzu and Shikuwasa are all very aromatic and indispensable in Japanese cuisine.

Mandarins play a major role in the Saigoku temples, too. For one, they are a typical offerings to the Buddhist deities at the altar. The temple legend of Kimii-dera in the city of Wakayama tells a Mandarin story. Temple no. 2 of Saigoku Pilgrimage is the site where Mr. Bunzaemon Kinokuniya started his fame. His risky speculation in a stormy winter night turned the "golden diamonds" into jingling coins. In fact, the businessman made a fortune out of mandarins and became one of the richest merchants of Japan.

Oranges in a temple. Source: own photo

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