Fukushima-produced premium rice brand unveiled locally & in Tokyo

Unveiling “Fuku, Warai” are (from left) Aihara, Uchibori and Tsurumaki.

The Fukushima prefectural government hosted events in Tokyo as well as in Fukushima city on Nov. 9 to introduce an original premium rice brand, dubbed “Fuku, Warai” (good luck, laughter), on the eve of its market debut. The events took place at the Surikamitei Ohtori resort hotel in the Iizaka district of Fukushima’s capital and the Happo-en garden, noted for its wedding halls and restaurants, in Minato ward, Tokyo. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori and other officials used the occasion to stress the allure and safety of local rice. The new brand was put on the market for initial sales of limited volume on Nov. 10 amid hopes it would help spur full-fledged sales from the fall of 2021. The two venues were linked online on a real-time basis. “We would like you to feel the tastiness of Fukushima-produced rice, packed with farmers’ passion, and break into a wide smile,” Uchibori said from the main venue in Fukushima. He publicized the new rice together with two promotional models of the “Utsukushima Ricy White” campaign, Kurumi Aihara, and Karen Tsurumaki. They were followed by Takashi Kanno, head of an association of the Japanese Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) group’s five chapters in the prefecture. “We would like to ask for your cooperation so that the new rice will be enjoyed nationwide,” he said. A representative of farmers also took his turn to promote the new brand, expressing hope that it “will be a savior of prefectural rice.” Event participants then savored steaming new rice as they pledged to expand marketing channels for local rice. Among those at the Tokyo venue were Michihiko Yanai, prefecture-commissioned creative director (hailing from the prefectural city of Koriyama) and a member of an advisory team for branding “Fuku, Warai,” and Hiromitsu Nozaki, executive chef (hailing from the prefectural town of Furudono) of Tokyo’s Waketokuyama Japanese-style restaurant. In fiscal 2020 ending next March, 13 teams of farming researchers planted the new rice breed in various parts of the prefecture, yielding a total of some 37 tons.