Japan has something of an obsessive penchant for fruit. More than a mere foodstuff, fruits are considered to be a thing of beauty, a prized possession, and in gift form a representation of the esteem in which one person holds for another. And in addition to all of that, it is even a lovely day out.
All year-round, the Japanese like to get out into nature and pick fruit. It is a fun occasion for a family, a romantic date, a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, it means different things to different people, but the result is the same: eating delicious fruit straight from the branch, vine or bush.
All around Hiroshima, there are farms dedicated to fruit picking. Depending on the time of year (obviously), different fruits are available, but no matter the season, you are assured of finding something fresh, juicy, and, above all, fruity!
Established in 1955, Hirata Kanko has been growing fruit on its 15-hectare farm for 65 years. With some 150 varieties of fruit produced, they don’t use any chemical fertilizers or herbicides, and only the ripest fruits are available to be picked.
This time of year, October, is apple picking season, and a little later on until May, it’s all about strawberries. Cherries and grapes follow this in the early summer, and then it’s time for peaches and pears in August and September.
At a whopping 65 hectares, Birne Laden is one of the most extensive orchards in Japan. The farm originated with nashi [a large, round Japanese pear]. While it remains Birne Laden’s primary fruit (the name literally means ‘pear garden’ in German), they also branched out (pun somewhat intended) into grapes, strawberries, peaches, and apples.
Of the five, all are available to pick aside from apples. Being a direct sales operation, you can buy as much fruit as you like and take home. Furthermore, you can even purchase other associated products, such as their locally-produced wine.
Unfortunately, we have just missed blueberry and grape season, and tomato time was earlier in the summer. Still, if you can wait another couple of months, Toyohira Donguri Farm is open in December for the picking of some juicy and delicious strawberries.
The system is all-you-can-eat in the allotted 40 minutes. And you’d be surprised by how many strawberries you can pack away in that time!
Aohata Jam is the best-known jam maker in Japan, and you can become part of their crew!
Not strictly fruit picking, this is more of a fruit packing experience, where you can visit the factory and make your own jam. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus restrictions, the factory tour is currently suspended, but you can still go along and make – and take home – your very own jam.