Mikan vs. Orange: What’s the Difference?

Mikan (みかん/蜜柑) is a citrus fruit resembling an orange that peaks now in December when it’s most purchased and becomes a staple in households in Japan (which also applies to my home).

Mikan vs. Orange

Unshu Mikan/温州みかんUnshu Mikan (Arida Mikan from Wakayama)

Mikan or 蜜柑 means honey-like sweet citrus, and today in Japan, it usually refers to Unshu Mikan (温州みかん), whose botanical name is citrus unshiu, also known as Satsuma mandarin.

On the other hand, the Japanese orange is usually Ama-Daidai (甘橙), whose botanical name is citrus sinensis, known in English-speaking countries as sweet orange.

Place of Origin

Valencia OrangeValencia Orange

Their place of origin is India, but Mikan later spread around Asia and came to Japan from China, whereas orange arrived here via Europe.

While Unshu Mikan is Japan’s most common Mikan variety derived from Wenzhou, China, we Japanese are most familiar with valencia orange as Ama-Daidai, whose birthplace is the United States.


Unshu Mikan Taste

While the season of valencia orange is summer, Unshu Mikan overlaps with Yuzu and is available in the market from around October to February and reaches its peak in December.

The Mikan is small with a soft, thin peel, compared to the orange, and is weak in aroma or light in taste. But it is seedless with a well-balanced flavor and can be eaten more.


Unshu Arida Mikan

Japan’s top 3 producers of Unshu Mikan are Wakayama, Ehime, and Shizuoka Prefectures.

And their famous brands are Arida Mikan (有田みかん), Nishi-Uwa Mikan (西宇和みかん), and Mikkabi Mikan (三ヶ日みかん).

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia ウンシュウミカン, オレンジ, Ito-Noen みかん, バレンシア )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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