A First-Timer’s Guide to Strawberry Picking in Japan
Do you know when the best time for strawberry picking is?
The strawberry picking season is finally here! For those who are planning on visiting the strawberry farms in Japan to harvest strawberries, we give you a run-down of the important things you should know to make your experience the best one yet.
Keep scrolling down to learn more.
How do you know which strawberry is delicious?
The strawberry should have a vivid red color until the tip of the fruit. This is one way of knowing whether the strawberry is ripe or not.
The simple answer is to check the color, pits, and sepals of the strawberry. Fully ripe strawberries have a consistent red color all over. The fruit should also be swollen like it’s covering the pits. If the fruit near the leaves is red and long or if the sepal is bent, then that’s also a sign that a strawberry is sweet.
Can’t find good strawberries in supermarkets? Your best bet is to go strawberry picking!
How should you pick strawberries?
Mind your fingers when using scissors.
How you pick the strawberries—whether by hand or scissors—will depend on the farm. When picking by hand, hold the stem, ahead of the sepal, between your pointer and middle finger, then use your wrist to snap and pull it away. If this is difficult, twisting your hand will do the trick, too. When using scissors, make sure to cut at the very edge of the sepal. Either way, remember to hold the strawberry gently so as not to squish it.
When picking by hand, hold the strawberry gently so that you don’t squish it.
When is the best season for strawberry picking?
Benihoppe, OiC Berry, Akihime, Tochiotome, Sachinoka, Yayoihime, Mouikko, Toukun, Yotsuboshi, Amaotome
This is a calendar showing the best seasons for picking different kinds of strawberries. Take note that this may change according to the weather and location.
The best time to pick strawberries is typically from January to March. Sometimes, the period after March is a good time too, depending on the farm. Different from grapes, strawberries flower on the same root even after being picked. You can enjoy fruity and firm strawberries between January to March, and softer and more moist strawberries from April to May when it’s warmer.
Pro-tip: Most farms offer discounts on strawberry picking activities and prices (per weight) during April and May. This might also be a good time to go if you’re on a budget.
When should you make a reservation?
As soon as possible! From January to March, slots on weekends tend to get filled up right away. However, some people cancel just before their scheduled strawberry picking date. So, you might be in luck if ever you decide to do this last minute. Nevertheless, it’s much wiser to make a reservation in advance.
What should you wear and bring when strawberry picking?
Some farms allow you to pick strawberries without having to bend down. This kind of set-up prevents your clothes and shoes from getting dirty. This also makes it possible for you to move through the aisles with your baby carriages and wheelchairs.
When strawberry picking, make sure not to bring so many things and to wear comfortable shoes. Most strawberry farms grow their strawberries high. A vinyl sheet usually covers the ground, allowing you to wear whatever kind of shoes you want without worrying about the muddy floor. However, heels can puncture the sheet, so we strongly advise against wearing them. The farmhouse tends to get cold during the winter season, too, so we suggest you wear warm clothes.
Aside from this, baby wipes are also handy for when you accidentally get strawberry juice on your clothes. You might want to bring a cooler during April and May to preserve your strawberries during the warm season. There will be bags provided for you, as well, so you won’t need to bring anything.
Are the strawberries sold at supermarkets different from those in strawberry farms?
Some strawberries are firm and tough. The strawberries you see at supermarkets are the kinds that can endure transportation. But, one of the best things about strawberry picking is that you can enjoy those that are soft and fragile, too. These strawberries are often the ones that are fully ripe and sweet.
Here’s a quick guide of the different types of strawberries you can find in Japan:
Benihoppe: It has a sweet, sour, and rich taste. This type of strawberry is often found in strawberry farms in Japan.
Sachinoka: This strawberry has the perfect balance of sweet and sour taste. It also has a beautiful shape. The best strawberries to pick for this kind are those that are bright red.
OiC Berry: This strawberry is relatively firm. It is said that you can get a day’s worth of vitamins when you’ve eaten seven of these.
Kaorino: This has an elegant and refreshing scent. It’s not that sour, so many people will like its soft and sweet taste.
Amaotome: This strawberry has a deep taste and can be picked early in the season. It’s very sweet but also sour.
Yumenoka: This strawberry is both sour and refreshing. It is also a little firm.
Yotsuboshi: This is soft and smells like a rose when fully ripe. It’s called “Yotsuboshi” because of its four-star sweet and sour flavor.
Tochiotome: This strawberry also has a good balance of sweet and sour taste. It has a nice scent and is often used in cakes.
Mouikko: Eating one of these will make you say “Mouikko!” (“Another one!” in Japanese). Its sour taste comes right after its sweet taste. This strawberry also has a nice mouthfeel.
Kanamihime: This was made by combining Tochiotome and Akihime. It’s not that sour and has a refreshing sweetness.
Toyohime: This one is rare in the Kanto area. It's very sweet and has a little sour taste.
Toukun: This rare strawberry smells like peaches. It's soft and mild.
Red Pearl: This strawberry used to be known as the expensive kind. It has a sour and sweet taste. The fruit is also red and has a strong scent.
Yayoihime: This is only slightly sour and mildly sweet. This type of strawberry is firm and tough, making it the perfect kind for presents.
Akihime: This has a mild sweetness and is not very sour. It's juicy and refreshing as well.
Is there anything else you should know about strawberry picking in Japan?
The secret to preserving the strawberries' freshness and sweetness is to put them in water with ice cubes. Apart from the strawberries, we also highly recommend the chocolate sauce and condensed milk sold at some of the farms.
Note: Some farms may prohibit bringing some things, so it’s best to check with them beforehand to ensure a fuss-free visit.
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (23 January 2019)