Japan’s 1st Red Sweet Corn Becomes Social Media ‘Jewel’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kumi Kaneko holds a plate of Yamato Rouge red sweet corn in Tenri, Nara Prefecture.

NARA — Yamato Rouge, Japan’s first red sweet corn, has been produced by a seed and seedling manufacturer in Tenri, Nara Prefecture.

Yamato Noen Co. has been studying and developing crop seeds for more than 100 years and its new red sweet corn has been growing in farms nationwide starting this year.

With its burgundy hue, different from typical yellow and white sweet corn, the photogenic food has been all over social media, and those at the company couldn’t be more excited.

Some comments on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram include, “It has a beautiful color, and it smells good, too” and “It looks like a precious jewel.”

The deep red color, which is only on the surface of the kernels, comes from anthocyanin, a pigment that produces blues and reds in plants.

Yamato Rouge can also be harvested twice a year — in summer and autumn — unlike standard sweet corn.

According to Kumi Kaneko of Yamato Noen’s product development department, the company decided to develop the red sweet corn about five years ago. The red coloring brightens up the dining table, whets a person’s appetite and is even said to give them more energy.

“We wanted to develop something that makes people smile as soon as they shuck it,” said Kaneko, 46.

In the beginning, the company struggled to grow Yamato Rouge. The sweet corn variety did not grow well as a result of bad weather, such as drought and torrential rain. However, in October last year, the company was finally able to start selling its red sweet corn seeds.

Yamato Rouge was even garnering some attention before the seeds went on sale. When Yamato Noen posted a picture of its red sweet corn on Instagram for the first time in spring 2022, farmers started contacting the company any way they could. In the end, Yamato Noen decided that about 100 farmers should grow the corn on a trial basis. The farmers put out reports on how they grew it, leading to information about Yamato Rouge spreading far and wide.

As a result, some municipalities have begun growing red sweet corn to revitalize the community.

“I hope Yamato Rouge will continue to make many people smile,” Kaneko said.

Yamato Rouge can be purchased from the Tabe Choku website, among other places. The seeds can be purchased from Yamato Noen’s website, as well as at seed and seedling shops and Japan Agricultural Cooperatives nationwide.