Spinach is believed have been first grown in Central Asia and the oriental variety was first brought to Japan around the 17th century from China. This particular variety became the local variety in Japan. In the 19th century Western varieties were brought from France. Today, there are mixed breeds that combine Oriental and Western varieties. These mixed breeds are the ones mainly grown in Hokkaido today.
Spinach is one of the best known green vegetables that contains a wealth of nutritional elements, including carotene, vitamin C, B1, and B2, iron, folic acid, potassium and zinc. Spinach effectively prevents anemia as well as colds and helps you maintain your health. Spinach is mainly boiled, but is also great stir fried or marinated.
Spinach is mainly grown in Hokuto City, Nanae Town and other parts of Southern Hokkaido as well as Date City and Mukawa Town. A large amount of spinach is also grown on the outskirts of cities, even in Sapporo.
■Map / Main producing municipalities
Hokuto City, Date City, Nanae Town, Mukawa Town, Otofuke Town, Sapporo City, Asahikawa City, Shiriuchi Town, Higashikagura Town, Furano City
Spinach is known as a winter vegetable on the island of Honshu because it is susceptible to high temperatures. Hokkaido’s cool climate, however, makes the peak season for shipping spinach last from June to August every summer. Spinach needs a lot of sunlight to grow, so the end product is succulent and highly nutritious. Spinach matures in about 30 days during the summer, so it can be harvested about four to five times every season, even in Hokkaido.
In recent years, Kanjime spinach, grown in cold temperatures from December to March for added sweetness, is seen at the store more and more. This is possible because spinach is highly resilient to the cold since it uses its sugar content to prevent freezing. Kanjime spinach is known for its dandelion-shaped leaves that spread across the surface of the ground.
Spinach is mainly grown between February to October, with the season running from April to September. There are also areas that grow Kanjime spinach and spinach grown during the winter.