The vast lands and temperate climate of Japan allow for various types of fruit to be grown across the land. Farms are plentiful across the rural parts of the country, and city areas themselves have little patches of beautiful nature which are called micro farms. I would love to grow a little garden in my tiny yard if I would have the time!
The season in which of some of the more popular types of fruit grow can be checked at this fruit calendar (in Japanese, but with helpful pictures, so it is not too hard to figure out). Some examples of summer fruits are cantaloupes, watermelons, sakuranbo cherries, and peaches that can be harvested between May and August (the juicy white peaches are to die for!). Autumn yields fruits such as figs, plums, grapes, persimmons, and pears. Some winter fruits that are in season from January to April are strawberries and mikan (clementines). There are more than a dozen species of mikan which differ subtly in taste, texture, acidity and other factors which I cannot decipher with my untrained palate. They are all delicious to me!
Japan is also famous for growing top-notch gourmet fruit to be used as gifts, and these sell for up to hundreds of dollars for one perfectly cultivated piece of fruit. In my opinion, it is more rewarding and fulfilling to pick one’s own fruit. I want to eat the sweet fruit of my labour, right in Tokyo! Situated in the heart of Setagaya (one of Tokyo’s residential areas in the western part), the Setagaya Ichigo-juku farm (いちご熟) offers strawberry picking. Choose from an all-you-can-eat plan for 2000 yen per 30 minutes, or take it home for 300 yen per 100 grams.
The eat-after-you-pick was unfortunately not available on that day we were there, so we opted for the take-out. There were 5 or 6 rows of 2 species of strawberries; they were red, big, delicious, juicy and sweet! Picking them while trying not to bruise them (and not to eat them) was a challenge; you have to pick it by the stem and avoid pulling or jerking. We sat by the road outside the farm and ate the loot. It was the best 5000 yen spent!
There are many strawberry-picking farms on the outskirts of Tokyo, or towards Kanagawa, Yamanashi, or Saitama, but the Setagaya farm really tipped the accessibility and yummilicious scales. City dwellers, be sure to take note!