First woman wins Yamaimo Competition with 170-kilogram yamaimo

First woman wins Yamaimo Competition with 170-kilogram yamaimo

Harumi Yamashiro became the first woman to win the Yamaimo Competition in Maehara in Ishikawa (March 4, Maehara Community Center in Ishikawa in Uruma)

March 8, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Wakana Arakaki


Most people who grow yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam) are men, and the Yamaimo Competition (Yamaimo Subu), a contest in which farmers compete using the weight of their yamaimo, has long been considered a competition between men. However, a woman has emerged as the champion of the yamaimo competition in Maehara in Ishikawa. Harumi Yamashiro claimed victory in the white yamaimo division, breaking the previous record with her yamaimo weighing 170 kilograms. She says, “There are a lot of challenges, but I would love to see more women involved.”


Yamaimo do poorly in dry conditions, and so require frequent watering as well as regular fertilizing. Snails need to be kept off of them. Protection from typhoons in the summer is also essential. Yamashiro says, “You have to be very physically strong, so I understand why women might not want to try it.” Yamashiro has been helping in the fields with physically demanding tasks such as harvesting sugarcane since she was young, and doesn’t mind the work.


The Ishikawa region in Uruma is the birthplace of the yamaimo competition. Competitors are mostly men, but Yamashiro says, “I grow yamaimo, so of course I wanted to get first place and did my best.” She says that the size of a yamaimo is proportional to the love that goes into raising it. Yamashiro adds, “Gender has nothing to do with it – if we put in the effort, women can also grow large yamaimo. I hope that a lot of women will give it a try.”

(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)


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