Coming from America, fruit to me was just another item on the grocery list, with nothing super special or celebratory about it. Japan is serious about its fruits, but you can even spend a whole outing participating in an activity called “fruit picking” or “fruit hunting.” You visit a local farm and pay a fee to pick and eat as many fruits as possible for the day. You usually pay an additional fee if you want to take some home.
Every season offers different fruits and farms to go wild and live your best fruitful life. Depending on your appetite, fruit picking can be a cost-effective way to get your fill of fruits at a bargain!
So where do we go and what time of year do we show up at the farm to hunt for some delicious treats? Here’s a cheat sheet to stay on top of what’s in season.
Strawberries from January–February
In the chilly winter months, strawberries load up on their delightful flavor. Since strawberries are often grown in greenhouses, the harvesting window for strawberries extends over a few months. Mid-January is when many farms start opening up opportunities for strawberry picking and it usually finishes by the end of February.
My top recommendation for strawberry picking is to visit Greenarium on Awajishima for a one-of-a-kind experience. Greenarium takes strawberry picking to the next level by offering a relaxing picnic experience where visitors can lay below a sky of strawberries suspended above them. At the same time, they indulge in fresh, locally grown berries. You can order shortcakes to decorate with your strawberries as well. It looks and feels as if you’re in your own strawberry paradise.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little closer to Tokyo, try Kawatsura Strawberry Farm which is about an hour and a half away, located in Chiba Prefecture. Like Greenarium, this farm utilizes honeybee pollination and special gardening techniques that allow plants to grow and give their strawberries an exquisite flavor.
Cherries from May–July
Cherries are typically in season starting in early summer. You can cherry-pick in various parts of Japan from late May to July. The locations for cherry picking are widespread across Japan, but Yamagata Prefecture is the most popular place. About 70% of Japan’s cherries are grown in Yamagata, making it the top cherry-producing prefecture. In Yamagata, more than 400 cherry orchards offer cherry-picking experiences. Cherryland in Kaminoyama, Yamagata is a popular place to experience cherry picking as they offer an all-you-can-eat course where you can eat cherries straight off the tree.
The cherries at the top of the tree are rumored to have the best flavor because they receive more sunshine, making them sweeter. So if you genuinely want the best basket of cherries for the day, use a ladder that cherry orchards often provide and help yourself to the ones at the top!
Peaches from June–August
The peach-picking season starts in late June and typically lasts until the end of August. One option for peach picking is at Misaka Farm in Fuefuki, Yamanashi. Misaka Farm offers an endless, all-you-can-eat peach course as one of its most attractive points. There are also no time restrictions, so you can enjoy the fruits to your heart’s delight. Other than for tour groups, there is no reservation for picking peaches, so you can visit anytime you like throughout the season.
When a peach is ripe and ready to eat, it is more crimson in color. A peach that still has some green on it needs a few days to ripen entirely before it is ready to be eaten. So search for beautiful pink and red hues and dig in!
Grapes from July–October
The fruity fall treat to pick is none other than grapes. Grapes are traditionally grown between the end of summer and the beginning of fall. With more than 40 varieties of grapes produced in the country, Japan is the largest grape-producing country worldwide.
There are vineyards across Nagano where you can pick grapes in early autumn. The Kikyogahara Valley in Shiojiri is well recognized for its vineyards, which grow great grapes and make excellent wine. Shiojiri City has many spots for grape picking, and Sanada Grape Farm has all-you-can-eat options.
Oranges from November–January
Wintertime in Japan means eating mandarin oranges (mikan in Japanese). The optimum month for picking oranges is usually November.
It’s time to head towards the south, as oranges are typically grown in Japan’s warmer regions, such as Ehime and Wakayama prefectures. Awajishima Fruit No Orchards on Awaji Island is also a great destination to experience all-you-can-eat orange picking. The trick to finding the sweetest orange is paying attention to the size; the smaller the orange, the sweeter it is!
The best aspect about fruit picking is that there is no feeling of missing out as there is always
some kind of fruit currently in season for you to hunt to your heart’s content. Fruit picking in Japan is popular enough that no matter where you reside, there is sure to be someplace within a couple hours of reach not limited to this list where you can experience it! So go off and explore the world of fruit at your fingertips, friends.
Have any farms to recommend? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!