Fruit in Japan is a serious topic, there are many available varieties, and they’re often sent to friends and family in the form of gifts. Strawberries are a beloved variety of fruit to send and receive. Many types are available, with seemingly another variety popping up in the stores every year.
Besides being given as a gift, a popular activity among Japanese people and tourists is strawberry picking. This family-friendly activity is fun, delicious, and there are even locations offering unlimited strawberries in an all-you-can-eat setting. Below is a guide on the strawberry season in Japan so that you can hunt for this tasty fruit with ease.
What Strawberry Varieties Are Available?
You may be surprised to find out just how many strawberry varieties are available. 50 types can be purchased throughout Japan at strawberry farms, grocery stores, and department stores. These Japanese fruits can vary in price, with premium strawberries starting at 400 yen and going up to a few thousand yen for a dozen. Here are a few varieties to try while visiting Japan.
This delicious type of strawberry has been around since the mid-1990s and originated in Tochigo prefecture. It’s a popular variety often found in stores. Tochiotome strawberries are known for their aromatic smell and bright red color. You’ll find this variety commonly used in baked goods and sweet treats.
2. Hatsukoi No Kaori
This stunning variety is a white strawberry. Its name translates to “scent of first love.” Don’t be deceived by their white color; they are ripe and ready to eat. Hatsukoi No Kaori is known for its sweetness. These are often gifted for celebratory events like weddings and births.
The Amaou strawberry was created in 2005 in Fukuoka prefecture. It’s well-known for its large size, delicious taste, and round shape. This variety of strawberries is a favorite for locals and one of the most popular strawberries.
Don’t be afraid to explore the many varieties; there’s even a delicious type of strawberry named Beni Hoppe, which translates to “Red Cheeks.”
When Is Strawberry Picking Season?
Strawberry picking season is from December to early May. This season typically stops around the first week of May, also known as Golden Week. Depending on the crops for the year, some Japanese farms may offer strawberry picking at the end of November. The ideal time to go strawberry picking is from January through April. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, visit the farms during the week as weekends tend to get very busy.
If you’re looking to strawberry pick later in the season, keep an eye on the weather. If winter is too warm, it will affect crops and cause strawberry picking season to be shorter.
History of Japanese Strawberries
Strawberries are so popular in Japan that even a strawberry house in Tokyo exists in the shape of a strawberry. While this house does not sell strawberries, it’s still a testament to how loved this fruit is.
Strawberries have a long history in Japan, with initial mentions going back to the 1000s. Initially, strawberries were a costly fruit that most people could not afford. In the mid-1900s, once greenhouses became popular for growing produce, strawberries became more affordable and widespread.
Tochigi prefecture began producing the highest number of strawberries starting in 1968. This is due to the soil conditions and the weather, making it ideal for growing strawberries. Somewhere along the line, farms started to introduce farming tours and then strawberry picking. Now, it continues to be a highly sought-after event to pick strawberries (and other fruit) throughout the year.
Where Can I Pick Fresh Strawberries?
There are many farms to choose from, which can be overwhelming. Here are a few farms to check out so you can skip the search and go strawberry picking. Don’t be surprised if you receive a tray with condensed milk to dip your strawberries in; many farms offer this delicious treat. It’s also a common way to eat strawberries in Japan.
Here, you can find six varieties of strawberries to choose from, including the famous Tochiotome strawberries. This location sits in Tochigo prefecture, about two hours away from Tokyo. You can walk from the Kitayama Station and arrive at Yoshimura in about five minutes, making it an easily accessible spot.
This strawberry farm is also found in Tochigo. Here, you’ll find three varieties to choose from. Of course, they offer the Tochiotome strawberries along with the Skyberry and Tochihine types. You can access this farm using the JR Oyama Station and take a cab ride to the farm.
• Strawberry House
Not to be confused with the above-mentioned Strawberry House, which sells Hello Kitty items, this Strawberry House is a farm in Kanagawa Prefecture. Here, you’ll be able to pick strawberries from four varieties, including the Beni Hoppe. You’ll also be served with condensed milk to dip these tasty berries. Take a bus from Ebina and Yokosuka Station to get to this location.
What Is an All-You-Can-Eat Strawberry Farm?
Some strawberry farms allow you to pick and eat as many strawberries as you’d like. There is a time limit of around 45 minutes, during which you can eat the strawberries. When you arrive at the strawberry farm, you’ll be taught the correct way to pick this fruit. Unfortunately, these farms generally do not allow you to take strawberries home, and there’s even a hefty fine if you get caught trying to sneak a few out.
However, you can still take strawberries home if you purchase them from the store on site. The above rule is only for berries that you have picked. So, head to the strawberry farm on an empty stomach for the best experience.
Head to the farms with your newfound strawberry season knowledge and enjoy your strawberry picking experience! It’s one of the best ways to spend time with your family or friends. Plus, you get to try a variety of sweet, yummy berries dipped in condensed milk. There’s nothing better than learning about this interesting fruit and bringing home some souvenirs from the onsite shop.