What Are Muscat Zipangu Grapes? - English

〜From the Setouchi region to the world, with our heart in each grape〜

Muscat Zipangu is a variety of grape that was developed over 10 years at The Hayashi Grape Research Institute in Okayama, Japan. Different varieties of grapes were naturally bred over 10,000 times to produce the Muscat Zipangu, and in 2014 it was registered as an official grape variety with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The name comes from an old European reading of the word ‘Japan’, first recorded by Marco Polo. Muscat refers to the family of grapes that the Zipangu belongs to. Okayama prefecture is famous for some of the most delicious muscat grapes in the world, and this variety is exceptional even in Okayama.

Muscat Zipangu is a new variety of grape that was developed in our labs at The Hayashi Grape Research Institute over a 10-year period. It was created by crossing generations of Rosario Bianco and Arisa varieties with the aim of creating seedless, thin-skinned grapes with the desired flavor profile. After over ten thousand iterations we were able to produce the Zipangu. In 2014 it was registered with Japan’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as an official variety of Japanese Muscat.

The Muscat Zipangu is seedless and can be eaten with the skin. When you bite into one of these exquisite grapes it bursts with juice and has a complex, deep sweetness and fresh aroma of muscat. One bunch of grapes is surprisingly large, and each individual grape provides a satisfying mouthful of juice and soft fruit.

Muscat Zipangu is a delicate variety of grape that is susceptible to rain and requires meticulous moisture management. It is a rare grape that can only be produced by highly knowledgeable and experienced farmers in the specific climate conditions of the verdant agricultural region of Okayama.

Characteristics of The Muscat Zipangu

(1) Big Size: Surprisingly large grapes grown in plentiful bunches

One bunch tends to weigh more than 1 kg (2.2 pounds), and each grape weighs approximately 50 grams (1.7 ounces). Each grape is roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. Customers are often surprised by the look and size of each grape when they first visit us.

(2) Easy to Eat: Seedless, juicy and thin-skinned

Muscat Zipangu is a "seedless, whole-skinned" variety of grape that is highly requested by our customers. These grapes are very easy to eat for everyone, from small children to the elderly.

The skin is very thin and a pleasure to bite into, with a satisfyingly crisp texture. When it breaks, the sweet juice overflows into your mouth. Muscat Zipangu are best eaten fresh, but retain their delicious and subtle flavor when frozen.

(3) Flavor and Fragrance: A noble aroma and elegant taste

Shingo Hayashi, the breeder of Muscat Zipangu, aimed to create a seedless variety that could be eaten with the skin intact, yet still possess the unique “noble muscat aroma” of rough-skinned varieties. He finally achieved that goal with Muscat Zipangu. It is seedless and has an edible skin, yet has the flavor and aroma profile of Muscat of Alexandria, the Queen of Fruits. 
We hope you will enjoy its elegant sweetness, abundant juice, and carefully selected fragrance.

Developer's Thoughts

The environment and the needs of local communities must always be attended to and cared for. The Hayashi Grape Research Institute aims to strengthen food security, environmentally friendly practices, and economic resilience of the local community of Okayama by developing fruit that can only be produced in the unique climate here. The abundance of sunny days throughout the year coupled with hot, humid Summers and cold, dry Winters makes the geographical region of Okayama a major breadbasket of Japan, known especially for its superb grapes and peaches. We aim to share the fruits of Okayama internationally. As the name ‘Muscat Zipangu’ implies, we hope that this grape will represent the high quality of Japanese produce to the rest of the world.


<About Shingo Hayashi, breeder and producer of Okayama muscat>

Shingo Hayashi represents the fourth generation of farmers at Hayashi Farm, a family farm that has existed for over 100 years. In addition to continuing the tradition of growing grapes, Shingo has been involved in grape breeding for more than 15 years. That’s why he thinks of Hayashi Farm as a research institute. He is passionate about the necessity of developing grape varieties in order to develop bio-diversity, respond to changes in the climate and environment, improve farmer’s incomes, and enjoy rich food.



<The climate of Okayama and the glass greenhouse>

Muscat cultivation in Okayama dates back 130 years to the Meiji Era. After the Meiji Restoration, fruit cultivation was encouraged in Japan and grapes were introduced from Europe. However, grapes which originated in arid regions were not suited to the hot and humid climate of Japan, and continued to fail.

To alleviate this problem, a former feudal lord of Okayama established a glass greenhouse in the Tsudaka district of Okayama City in 1904, and succeeded in producing Muscat of Alexandria (referred to here as Muscat), a family of muscat grapes with a thick skin and rich flavor. This success was due to this innovative facility and the climate of Okayama. Okayama is the sunniest prefecture in Japan, with little rainfall or snow, and few natural disasters such as typhoons or earthquakes. From the Meiji period to the present, Okayama has been conducting research on Muscat breeding and cultivation techniques. Today Okayama accounts for 90% of Japan’s Muscat production.

Muscat Zipangu represents the latest in Okayama’s long history of Muscat cultivation, created by using the same greenhouse technologies and cultivation methods developed in Okayama over one hundred years ago.


Muscat Zipangu: An exclusive treasure of Okayama Prefecture

Muscat Zipangu is grown only in Okayama Prefecture and is currently cultivated by about 100 contract farms throughout the region. As a new variety of grape, there is only a small amount in circulation despite high demand, making it a very rare luxury produce. It has attracted attention in both domestic and international media and is usually sold only in high-end fruit stores. 
For inquiries about how to purchase grapes or visit our farms:

For business inquiries:

Muscat Zipangu is currently produced only in Japan and in limited quantity. If you are a grower, seller, or have other business interests, please contact us!
Hayashi Grape Research Institute Co.
Rep: HAYASHI Shingo
Address: 525-1 Tsudaka, Kita-ku, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture 7011152 [Google Map]
Email: hayashi.grapelabo@gmail.com