Summer is here and the weather is perfect for eating fresh fruit and fruit-related products. Sure, you can go to a restaurant and eat away to your heart’s content, but why try fruit picking instead? Fruit picking is an extremely popular social activity for Japanese people and something young women in particular often do together. Summer is one of the busiest seasons but it’s something you can do any time of the year with different seasons involving different types of fruit.
One place,not far from Hiroshima in Miyoshi City, is Hirata Kankou Farm. From December to May you will find sweet strawberries, June is exclusively for cherries, and July and August sees plums and peaches with grapes appearing in August. Once you’ve picked the fruit you can either simply eat it as it is or take the time to make some jam from it. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you can make jam between 11 and 1pm, with a one hour session costing you just 1000 yen.
This place is particularly fun and interesting because you can also try your hand at making soba. For someone who has made soba and knows how difficult it is, I would highly recommend it. The sense of achievement in finishing and then eating the fruits of your labour (or in this case, soba of your labour) as it were, you will be thoroughly impressed with yourself. If you’re more of an arty and creative soul, there is also the option of dying cloth and then using the cloth to make clothes or give as a gift to a friend.
Everyone in Japan is familiar with the blue and white label of Aohata Jam Deck and so they should be since it’s the number one jam company. Also located in Miyoshi, you are able to make the jam from scratch and then take some of your product home to be reminded daily of your efforts. Perhaps most exciting of all, the jam jars for this activity are decorated with seasonal designs and cannot be found in any supermarket.
A little closer to home in Asakitaku, Hiroshima City also owns a place called Seishonen Yagaikatsudo Centre or the Hiroshima City Farm Centre. This place is so under-utilised that many Hiroshima locals don’t know about it and are absolutely shocked (in a good way) to discover that everything is free. Yes. EVERYTHING! The only condition is that you need to bring one child to take part in the activities. In other words, if you are single or married without children, you need to beg, borrow or steal one.
Monday to Friday is mostly used by school trips, but on the weekends the place is virtually empty and even though it’s on the edge of the city, it’s so quiet you will think you are somewhere much further away. I went recently with my kindergarten students and we all had fun planting sweet potato, picking strawberries and having a picnic lunch in the grounds of the farm. The farm also has camping grounds available and plenty of hiking trails. Best of all, it’s not too far from downtown Hiroshima and thus, can be used for a simple day trip or a longer getaway.
Summer might mean the rainy season, but once that’s over and days are filled with sunshine, fruit picking is a fun activity to try with your friends or family.