When did bananas come to Japan?
Bananas officially started being imported into Japan in 1903 from Taiwan.
It is said that the first banana ever brought to Japan was the one presented to the warrior Nobunaga Oda by a Portuguese missionary. Before arriving in Japan, bananas spread from the Malay peninsula to Myanmar and India, and to East Africa, Madagascar, and Congo in around 2,000 B.C., and to West Africa, the Canary Islands, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, and many more regions by the 15th century. In other words, before coming to Japan, bananas had been on an epic journey around the world over the previous 10,000 years.
What species does the banana belong to?
Bananas are a perennial monocotyledonous plant of the genus Musa in the family Musaceae. They are often called trees because of their size, and the banana is thought of as a fruit that grows on a tree. However, bananas are actually one of the world's largest herbaceous plants.
Even upon learning this, it's still hard for us not think of them as trees.
What are the parts of the banana called?
This is the stem part of the hand of bananas.
This is the shaft right below the crown.
This is the end of the banana fingers, and refers to the part where the flower was once attached.
As you can see, the parts of a banana have unique, interesting names.
How many different types of bananas are there in the world?
There are about 100 to 300 varieties. As they have been crossbred it is difficult to categorize them, so we still do not have an accurate number. There are a couple of dozen types cultivated commercially for food (for raw consumption or cooking bananas), and the bananas imported into Japan are mostly for raw consumption.
What types of bananas are there?
- - Philippine bananas
- - Taiwanese bananas (Northern Banana, Banana Goddess variety, etc.)
- - Ecuadorian bananas
- - Monkey bananas
- - Red bananas
- - Island bananas
- - Pisang Mas bananas
- - Cooking bananas
Can bananas be grown in Japan?
Bananas can be grown in Japan, and this mainly occurs in Okinawa Prefecture, the Amami Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture, and Miyazaki Prefecture. They are mostly consumed by cultivators and the local community, and are rarely sold at stores. Annual production in Japan is about 249.4 tons, with a cultivation area of about 52.5 hectares and a shipment volume of about 228.3 tons.
(From the Kudamono Navi website)
What is needed to grow bananas?
Bananas grow well in warm and humid climates. Between 30° north and 30° south in latitude lies the "banana belt" (banana paradise), a tropical area with an average temperature of 27°C and annual precipitation of 2,500 mm. As for growing bananas in Japan, although the plant does not die, growth stops when temperatures fall below 15 degrees Celsius. Bananas grown in Japan must therefore be placed within a greenhouse, and this is why most of the areas that harvest bananas have a climate of high temperature and high humidity. In other words, bananas can only be grown in certain areas.
How do bananas grow?
Each flower bud in every row has an unripe banana within it. These first grow downward, and the buds gradually fall off as the banana hands continue to grow in rows. Due to hormones in the fruit activated by sunlight, the bananas start to grow against gravity in a process known as apogeotropism, and this is how they come to be curved. An entire cluster of bananas on a plant is called a bunch, and each bunch contains about 10 groups of bananas called hands. A bunch contains about 25 to 30 kilograms of bananas.
Do bananas become diseased?
Panama disease: A disease where a fungus enters the banana plant from the roots, turning the stems and leaves yellow and making the plant wilt.
Sigatoga disease: A disease where fungus spores enter the pores on the back of the leaves, creating yellow streaks along the leaf veins and killing the leaves so they hang limp from the plant. The Cavendish and the Taiwanese Northern Banana and Banana Goddess varieties are susceptible to this disease.
Banana freckle: A disease where fungus spores mixed with the rain infect the leaves and fruit, causing small dots to appear on the bananas.
Banana bunchy top virus: A disease spread by banana aphids. It stunts the growth of the plant, makes them wilt, and prevents them from bearing fruit.
Moko disease: A disease that causes rotting to the part where the leaf's sheath and blade are joined together, making the leaf wither.
What are the banana's enemies?
- 1) Banana thrip larvae, banana stem weevil, and banana weevil borer eat and damage the stems of the bananas, and banana aphids cause the banana bunchy top virus.
- 2) Bananas are not good at withstanding typhoons. The huge size of the plants give them low resistance against strong winds and gales, and those with bunches are easily felled.
- 3) Bananas cope badly with abnormal weather conditions, meaning that the recent El Nino effect (rising sea levels) and other climate conditions have on occasion caused a fall in harvest.
What does "banana fumigation" mean?
Imported bananas undergo plant inspections for diseases and pests in accordance with the Japan Plant Protection Act. This is done in order to stop insects and other creatures that could damage native plants from entering the country. Thus, if live insects such as thrips, Mediterranean fruit flies, and scale insects are found, they are all fumigated. Fumigation refers to the killing of pests in a sealed facility through the gasification of chemical pesticides. The pesticides used (e.g., methyl bromide, cyanide gas) vary depending on the type of pests discovered.
The following is taken into account during fumigation:
- 1) That there is sufficient insecticidal effect;
- 2) That the plants will not be harmed; and
- 3) That humans consuming said plants will not be harmed. The amount used and duration of the process is determined in consideration of the above.
(Plant Protection Act)
What does it mean to color bananas?
Bananas are imported into Japan when they are still green and unripe due to quarantine requirements. After quarantine, they are placed in a ripening facility by the processing company. A plant hormone called ethylene is used to ripen them into an even color. The temperature, humidity, and other factors within the facility are also controlled during the ripening process to maximize flavor. Additionally, bananas that have turned yellow during shipping are prohibited from being imported into Japan under the Plant Protection Law, and are thus disposed of.
What is the nutritional content of bananas?
The banana is a truly well-balanced source of nutrition, with carbohydrates for energy, various vitamins including vitamin C and a vitamin B complex, minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium, as well as a small amount of plant-based protein. It also includes lots of dietary fiber that cannot be digested, thereby contributing to the prevention of obesity, constipation, diarrhea, and bowel cancer, and it has virtually no fat, making it suitable for those on a diet.
Why do bananas turn brown?
The brown spots that appear on bananas as they ripen are called sugar spots. This name comes from the fact that these spots show that the sugar content of the banana is increasing. Bananas are harvested when the skin is still green, and gradually turn yellow between the time they are imported and when they go on display at stores. As the skin turns yellow, the starch within the fruit is broken down, creating glucose and fructose and making the banana sweet. When sugar spots start to appear, it means that the banana is at its peak flavor and sweetness.
Which country is the world's largest producer of bananas?
India is by far the world's biggest banana-producing nation at 31.9 million tons. (2nd is China at 9.85 million tons, 3rd is the Philippines at 9.1 million tons, and 4th is Ecuador with 7.93 million tons.)
Many people in Japan are unaware of this fact, as supermarkets in Japan often sell bananas from countries other than India. Although India produces the largest amount of bananas, more than 80% of these are consumed domestically, which is why Indian bananas are hardly ever seen in Japan.
(FAO statistical data from 2010)
Where are bananas in Japan imported from, and where are they produced?
As bananas are produced in tropical and subtropical areas south of the country, Japan largely depends upon imported bananas. About 90% are imported from the Philippines, with the remaining 10% coming from Taiwan and from Central and South American countries such as Ecuador, Mexico and Peru. India is the world's largest producer of bananas, but the amount imported from India into Japan is very small. [The total import volume into Japan is 1,109,000 tons. The biggest exporters to Japan are the Philippines at 1,035,000 tons (93%), followed by Ecuador at 46,000 tons (4%) and Taiwan at 9,000 tons (1%)]
(Trade statistics issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2010)
What proportion of fruit imported to Japan is bananas?
Bananas account for more than half of the fruit imported into Japan, and they are available year round.
The import volume for bananas is larger than any other fruit, accounting for approximately 60% of fruit imports. So what other fruit is imported into Japan? After bananas comes grapefruit at about 160,000 tons, followed by oranges at about 115,000 tons and kiwis at about 65,000 tons. You can see from these numbers that the import volume of bananas is significantly greater. The reason for this is that bananas are very different from other fruit. They can be harvested throughout the year, eaten with little preparation, and digested easily.
(Trade statistics issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2011)
What is the quantity of bananas consumed in Japan?
Out of a population of around 130 million, the average person in Japan consumes about 8.2 kg of bananas per year, a surprisingly large amount. This means that around 20 kg is consumed per household per year, a volume that far exceeds that of apples, oranges, and other fruit. Even though fruit consumption is on the decline in Japan, a banana-eating boom pushed banana consumption to a historic high in 2009.
Perhaps the reason why bananas are so beloved in Japan is that they require little preparation while at the same time being healthy and packed with nutrients.
(Trade statistics issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2011)