This is how to enjoy Japanese-grown fruits!

Seasonal fruits that signal the coming of a new season

Japan offers seasonal fruits of all of the four distinct seasons. People feel the coming of new seasons when seeing seasonal fruits such as when there are strawberries and citrus fruits in the spring; cherries, peaches, melons, and grapes in the summer; persimmons and pears in the autumn; and apples and tangerines, along with yuzu and kabosu citrus, which are squeezed for their juice to be used as seasonings, in the winter.

Greenhouse cultivation
Cultivation of strawberries in greenhouses

The secret to the deliciousness and beautiful appearance of Japanese-grown fruits lies in the wisdom and devotion of the producers. Fruits were known as “watery sweets” in ancient Japan and were enjoyed as luxuries and lavish gifts in addition to sources of vitamins. Emphasis was placed on the flavor and beautiful appearance of fruits a long time ago because there were not many processed products such as jam and fruit liquor. Breeding as well as research on cultivation and storage methods for fruits were also being done.

The black watermelon and white strawberry
The black “Densuke” watermelon (left) and “Hatsukoi no Kaori(R) (Scent of First Love)”, white strawberry (right)

This research led to the improved quality of Japanese-grown fruits and shipments of larger and sweeter fruits such as strawberries and apples all year round. Furthermore, breeding focused on better flavors as well as unique appearances has led to new kinds of fruits such as watermelons with black rinds and white strawberries.

Fruit corner

One of the results of the research conducted by the producers is the development of a wide variety of breeds ranging from luxury products to those that are more affordable. Luxury products that are mainly for gifts can be found at places such as department stores and fruit stores. The more affordable fruits can be found at the fruit sections of street-corner produce markets and supermarkets.

Special sweets made with fruits!

Desserts and processed food items made with Japanese-grown fruits are extremely popular. The sweets featuring the colors and flavors of the ingredients can be said to be uniquely Japanese in that these are main qualities found in Japanese food culture. There are many with the rich flavors of the fruits themselves, no unnecessary flavorings due to their having enough sweetness, and leaving the natural freshness of the fruits while being mostly unheated.

Fruit Parlour Takano, Main Store

A recommended spot is the Fruit Parlor presented by fruit specialty stores if you want to enjoy treats such as parfaits and cakes made with seasonal fruits. Here, there are shops with all-you-can-eat fruit buffets that are open at specific times, shops that offer sweets made with famous local products, and more.

Fruit Parlour Takano, Main Store

Address: 3-26-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Access: 1 min. by walk from JR Shinjuku Station

Ginza Sembikiya – Ginza Main Store Fruit Parlour

Address: 2F, 5-5-1, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Access: 1 min. by walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Station

Qu’il fait bon Grand Maison Ginza tarts
Mango tart.
Berry Café Aoyama tart.

Cafes where you can eat tarts that look like jewelry boxes with their brilliantly-colored fruit, freshness, and juiciness are recently popular. They are so lovely that they make you want to photograph them when they are served.

Qu’il fait bon Grand Maison Ginza

Address: FACADE GINZA 1F/B1F, 2-5-4, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Access: 1 min. by walk from Ginza-itchome Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line

Berry cafe Aoyama

Address: 1-2F, 5-10-19, Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Access: 4 mins. by walk from Tokyo Metro Omote-sando Station

Daifuku rice cake
Strawberry Daifuku rice cake (left) and tangerine Daifuku rice cake (right)

Years ago, Western confectionaries were the mainstream when it came to sweets made with fresh fruit, but a new Japanese confectionary was introduced in around the 1980’s. It is known as the strawberry Daifuku rice cake. It is a Daifuku rice cake, which is a classic Japanese confectionary, filled with an entire strawberry and has become so widespread that it can now be found at locations such as neighborhood Japanese confectionary shops and supermarkets. New kinds of Daifuku rice cakes filled with other ingredients such as tangerines and grapes have also begun to appear.

Processed food items
Processed food items by Obuseya made with apples from Nagano.

There are many processed food items filled with the delicious flavors of Japanese fruits. Regions where fruit production is abundant offer products such as juice, wine liquor, and jam made with special local fruits as well as jelly and canned items.

Have a try at fruit picking!

Fruit picking

Have a try at fruit picking, where you can go to a fruit farm and actually pick your own fruits while enjoying the flavors of freshly-picked fruits. There are fruit farms where you can eat the fruits that you pick right on the spot and a growing number of farms with outside barbeque facilities.

There are also travel agencies that offer bus tours that include fruit picking trips along with sightseeing and shopping in the areas where you pick the fruits.

Strawberry picking

Finally, a few notes for when you go fruit picking.
– Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
– Remember to prepare yourself for the heat in the summer such as by wearing a hat and sufficiently rehydrating yourself.
– Do not bring large pieces of luggage into the farms.
– Obey the rules of the farms that you visit.
(There is normally a fee for taking back with you what you have picked instead of eating it on the spot. Many facilities forbid taking back with you what you pick.)
– It is convenient to bring along a towel or moist towelettes for wiping your hands with.

It is an enjoyable to eat what you have picked yourself on the spot. Please be sure to include fruit picking as one of the events in your trip through Japan.

* Some of the fruits and sweets listed may not be available depending on the time of year or the season.