In early December, Masanao Saito, 83, a farmer in the Takase district of the inland town of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, was talking to his mikan tangerine trees full of fruit. “Thank you for bearing fruit again this year.”

Using special scissors, Saito carefully plucked the "Okitsu Wase" tangerines, now in their third year of production. The fruit, glistening in the sunlight, stood out against the farmland in early winter, which was beginning to lose its color.

On a hill near Saito’s tangerine farm, a field of apple trees spreads out, with the familiar bright red fruits waiting to be harvested.