The 5 Best Strawberries in Japan!

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  • Spring is just around the corner, and we are currently in prime strawberry season. The best time to buy sweet strawberries at reasonable prices is from January to the beginning of March. Cafes and restaurants also tend to have many sweets using strawberries.

    Strawberries are also known to contain plenty of vitamin C and folic acid. To take all nutrients, the best way is to eat them fresh like in salads. Why not add strawberries to your meals?

    Here in Japan, strawberries are widely loved and about more than 300(!) kinds of strawberries are grown every year. There is even a myth that more than 50% of all kinds of strawberries in the world are from Japan. In this article, we will introduce 5 especially famous kinds, each of which has different varieties of sweetness, sourness, flavours, smells, and the sizes.

    Tochi Otome – とちおとめ

    Main area: Tochigi, Aichi, Ibaraki

    Originally developed in Tochigi in 1996, Tochi Otome is Japan’s leading strawberry accounting for the largest amount of strawberries grown in Japan. With a high sugar content and comfortable sourness, Tochi Otome has lots of fruit juice and it stays fresh for a relatively long time.

    Amaou – あまおう

    Main area: Fukuoka

    Developed in Fukuoka in 2005, Amao is a large sized strawberry which sometimes weighs more than 20 grams. Having a round shape and lots of fruit juice, Amao has the perfect balance of sweetness and sourness. The name “Amao” comes from the first letters of “Akai (red)”, “Marui (round)”, “Ookii (big)”, “Umai (delicious)” which came from the ideas of citizens in Fukuoka.

    Sachinoka – さちのか

    Main area: Nagasaki, Saga

    Sachinoka is a strawberry the government led to develop in 2000. Besides Nagasaki and Saga, it’s widely known and grown in Japan. It has a relatively large size and thick red color. It also has a good balance between sweetness and sourness, and the firm flesh enables relatively long preservation.

    Beni Hoppe – べにほっぺ

    Main area: Shizuoka

    Multiplying Akihime and Sachinoka, Beni Hoppe was born in 2002. With its long and big shape and brilliant red color, Beni Hoppe enables us to taste the original sweetness and sourness of strawberries. The name of Beni Hoppe comes from the scarlet (Beni) color and its deliciousness as it melts in one’s mouth.

    Saga Honoka – さがほのか

    Main area: Saga

    As its name suggests, Saga Honoka was developed in Saga in 2001 and mainly grown in the Kyushu area. It has a large size and has red colored skin and white flesh. It has strong sweetness and juiciness with mild acidity. Its smell is also good. At the supermarket, you can find them with several names like “Saga Honoka”, “Honoka” and “Honoka Ichigo”.

    White Strawberry as an added bonus – しろいちご

    The first white strawberry in the world was born in Japan in 2009 as “Hatsukoi No Kaori (The smell of the first love)”. At that time, white strawberries were regarded as extravagant gifts, but these days, we can purchase them at the department store or even local supermarkets.

    But by the way, why is this strawberry white? Is it grown like a white asparagus without sunlight? The answer is no. The reason that this strawberry gradually becomes red is because of the pigment called Anthocyanin. But the white strawberry originally doesn’t contain this Anthocyanin so even if it’s soaked up in the sun, its color doesn’t change and keeps its white color.

    With its white color, you might feel like it’s not ripe yet, but that’s not the case. You will be definitely surprised about how sweet it is, just like a red strawberry. The white strawberry has a great sweet fragrance like a peach and pineapple; and you can always enjoy its delicate flavour.

    Hatsukoi No Kaori: Yamanashi

    Toukun: Nagasaki, Ibaraki

    Tenshi no Mi: Saga

    Awayuki: Kagoshima, Saga, Kumamoto

    Pearl White: Saga, Nara