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Shishimai is a variety of Shishito pepper, with the classic mild spice plus added disease resistance.

Capsicum annuum

Shishi means “lion” and Mai means “dance”. Shishimai is a festive dance performed in lion costumes at celebrations and festivals during the New Year. The performing lion “bites” children to ward off bad luck, improve academics, and bring good health.

This pepper is bright and bite-sized, not spicy in taste but distinctly peppery. It is harvested green (before turning red) for peak flavor. Shishimai is the first Shishito variety with added L3 disease resistance against tobamoviruses.

Why shishi? The two split ends of the pepper resemble a lion with its mouth open.

Cooking with Shishimai

Shishimai are best suited for light cooking methods like grilling, sauteing, roasting, and frying. The pepper’s skin blisters easily, giving it a beautiful char when grilled. Try them seared in a cast iron skillet with sesame oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt for a savory and satisfying starter dish.

Safety Tip: Poke holes when frying to prevent the peppers from exploding.

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Growing Details

  • Suitable temperature for germination: 75-85℉
  • Suitable temperature for growing: 70-88℉
  • Soil pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Days to maturity: 50-60 days from transplanting


  • Transplanting required. Sow 1-2 seeds per cell into a 72-cell tray in 1/4-1/2" deep and cover gently. Thin to one plant per cell after germination.
  • Maintain soil moisture. Dry-wet cycles and overwatering can prevent germination.
  • Water as needed once first true leaves emerge; allow soil to dry between watering.


  • Check for readiness between 55–65 days after germination by gently pulling on the base of the stem to see if the roots hold the soil together.
  • Transplant to 12" spacing.
  • Transplant shock: leaves may turn yellow after transplant but will return to normal after 10-14 days.


  • Pruning: remove first 3-5 flowers to promote vegetative growth and encourage higher yields.
  • Avoid overwatering; can cause peppers to enter dormancy.
  • Cultivate to prevent weed growth and use best management practices for pests.


  • Harvest at 3-5" when deep green.
  • Continually harvest 2–3 times per week. Delayed harvest can prevent fruit set and decrease yields.
  • Over-mature fruits will turn red and become spicy.


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