The Sweetest Harvest: Friendly Guide to Strawberry Picking in Japan

by Nana Young

Strawberry picking in Japan is a fun experience for both kids and adults. If you’d like to participate, we’ve got all the information you need for an optimal time out at Japanese strawberry farms.

The Art of Strawberry Picking in Japan: A Timeless Tradition

Strawberry picking is a seasonal activity in which people in Japan visit strawberry farms to harvest the ripe fruits. Some Japanese strawberry farms allow you to take home the fruits you pick, while others let you eat them.

A boy enjoying strawberry picking season on a trip

Here’s how it works: Strawberries in Japan are planted in open fields or artificial temperature-controlled greenhouses. The farmers use a variety of traditional and innovative methods to produce strawberries that are bigger and juicier than the ones you might find at the local supermarket. Once the fruits are ripe, it’s time to pick them. In Japan, the strawberry harvest season could last from late December to early May. During that time, some strawberry farms open their doors to the public, allowing people to visit and join in the harvest. They typically charge a few thousand yen to give visitors limited-time access to the farms. Once inside, you can pick to your heart’s content.

Girl Pick Strawberries

Why pick strawberries? The feeling of picking your own strawberries is nothing like shopping for fruits at the grocery store. Japanese strawberry picking is an educational experience because it gives you a chance to talk to knowledgeable farmers. That way, you can learn more about the fruits you eat and the resources that go into growing them. The practice is a beloved activity for families, couples, and tourists in the country. It’s especially popular during the Christmas or winter holidays when families ask farmers to guide them in picking high-quality strawberries to use as dessert toppings. The strawberries also make fantastic gifts during celebrations. There’s a lot more to Japanese strawberries than their taste. These fruits are preferred to other types in foreign countries. Read on for more tips and facts about the best strawberries here in Japan, including their varieties and associated festivals. We’ll also reveal the best time and place to harvest them in the country.

Why Japan's Strawberries Are World-Renowned

Strawberry field and strawberry harvest

Japanese strawberries are considered premium versions of the fruit. Hence, they cost more than those from other countries. Do they deserve to be so famous and renowned? We think so, and below, you’ll find ample reasons for our deduction.

  1. Vibrant appearance: Japanese strawberries tend to have a deep red color, although some special variants are white. They are also two to three times bigger than regular strawberries.

  2. Sweet flavor: While regular strawberries are sour, the Japanese fruit has a sweet flavor with a subtle hint of acidity. Their sweet taste makes them ideal additions to desserts like cakes and ice cream.

  3. No hollow center: Regular strawberries tend to have hollow centers because of problems in their cultivation process, but not these Japanese fruits.

  4. Meticulous strawberry cultivation methods: Strawberries hardly grow naturally all year round, but the cultivation methods of Japanese farmers and their artificial greenhouses make it possible. Hence, you can find juicy Japanese strawberries in the winter, even though they only ripen from spring to summertime. 

The Best Time for Strawberry Picking in Japan

Elementary school age kid picking strawberries in Japan

The strawberry season in Japan is typically from January to May. This is a little different from what you might be used to in your country. For example, in the United States, strawberry season is from April to June. You can always find these fruits in Japan, but the freshest produce is only available during the strawberry picking season. But when is the best time of the year for strawberry picking in Japan?

The best time to go to a Japanese farm for strawberry picking is late January to late February. Those are the ideal times because the farmers harvested a lot of strawberries in December, the start of the winter holidays. By late January, the remaining fruits from the harvest would have reached their peak sweetness. Exposure to sunlight makes strawberries taste sweeter. So, we recommend that you visit the farm on the day after two to three sunny days to fully enjoy strawberry picking. Be sure to come in the early hours of the morning or right after sunrise so you get access to the freshest picks before others. Weekdays are better for strawberry picking in Japan because there are fewer crowds at the farm.

Strawberry Varieties: Japan's Sweet Innovations

Fresh white strawberries on white background.

There are about 312 different types of Japanese strawberries. Each of them has its own unique flavors and textures, but some are more popular than others. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common Japanese strawberry varieties: 

  1. Amaou: The most popular Japanese strawberry in the world. Amaou originated in Fukuoka Prefecture and is famous for being big, red, round, and sweet. The “King of Strawberries” is more expensive than most of the others on our list.

  2. Tochiotome: Originating in the Tochigi prefecture, these strawberry variants are common in Japanese supermarkets. They have a small size and a pointed shape, making them ideal for dessert decoration. Tochiotome strawberries have a balanced sweet and sour taste.

  3. Beni-hoppe: Another supermarket favorite, Beni-hoppe strawberries come from Shizuoka prefecture. They make great substitutes for Amaou fruits because of their red color, delicious taste, and affordable cost.

  4. Saga Honoka: Saga Honoka strawberry takes part of its name from its place of origin, the Saga prefecture. It has a triangular shape, a bright red exterior, and a fleshy white interior.

  5. Hatsukoi no Kaori: This is the special white strawberry. It has a mellow taste that’s lighter than most of the other varieties. Its high sugar content is responsible for its exceptional sweet taste. These sweet strawberries are mostly given as gifts on birthdays, weddings, and the Japanese White Day.

Strawberry Picking Experiences Across Japan

Strawberry growers of Japan.

Now that you know the basics of Japanese strawberry picking, it’s time to introduce you to notable farms for the best experience. Most of these establishments charge a fee per 30-minute, all-you-can-eat session. A few farms also offer pairings, such as condensed milk, to enhance the experience.

Setagaya Ichigo Juku (in Central Tokyo)

Setagaya Ichigo Juku is one of the most popular farms for strawberry picking in Japan, thanks to its extensive harvest time. From January to the middle of June, you can visit the farm to pick delicious strawberries of the Beni-hoppe, Yotsuboshi, and Akihime varieties. Please note that this farm requires a reservation.

Kamakura Kanko Strawberry Farm (in Kanagawa Prefecture)

You’ll find it next to impossible to see other spots in Kamakura City that offer strawberry picking. The farm has a lot of low-hanging fruits (literally), making it the ideal place for families with kids. You need a reservation to enter, and it only opens on weekends and public holidays from late January to early May. The main strawberry variety here is called Beni-shizuka.

Andersen Strawberry Farm (in Chiba Prefecture)

Sessions at Andersen Strawberry Farm begin from the middle of January to the first week of May. Its sessions typically last for 35 minutes, and in that time, you’re free to pick and eat as many Beni-hoppe, Akihime, and Yotsuboshi strawberries as you like.

Morinouen (in Kanagawa Prefecture)

From January to May, Morinouen is a popular spot open to strawberry lovers in Kanagawa. The strawberry picking farm has one of the broadest ranges of varieties in Japan, including Beni-hoppe and white Shiro Ichigo.

Strawberry-Inspired Delights at Japanese Farms

Strawberry mochi daifuku

When you visit a strawberry farm in Japan, you don’t have to stick to fruits. Some places offer a wide range of strawberry-inspired treats and products. Eat them on the spot or take them home as souvenirs. Below are some of the most common ones:

  1. Daifuku

  2. Pop tarts

  3. Milkshakes

  4. Fruit salads

  5. Lemonades

  6. Popsicles

  7. Jams

  8. Plushies

  9. Phone cases

  10. Perfumes

Combining Strawberry Picking with Local Tourism

Unidentified tourists visit the cherry blossom park in Japan.

So you’ve picked up some tasty strawberries from the local farm. What next? Besides picking strawberries, some farms allow you to pick other types of fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries or shiitake mushrooms. We also suggest you enjoy the strawberries you gathered at a picnic with family and friends. All you need to do is find a nearby picnic spot. Parks and riversides are great options, particularly during springtime when the cherry blossom season is in full swing. For this to work, you need to find a farm that allows you to take some of the strawberries with you. Next, find a nearby park that allows group picnics. Finally, you need food to go with the fresh strawberries, such as desserts, sandwiches, and turkey. Alternatively, you could pick out other local attractions in the area. Museums, towers, temples, and shrines are common in nearly every city in Japan.

Strawberry Festivals: Celebrating the Berry in Japan

Japanese traveler enjoys a tasty strawberry treat in Tokyo during festival

There are several strawberry festivals within and near Tokyo where visitors can enjoy strawberry tasting and picking, fairs, and cultural performances. The biggest one is the Yokohama Strawberry Festival, which runs throughout February. It takes place at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse. Every year, thousands of people gather to sample some of the most delicious strawberries Japan has to offer. The event also includes strawberry-themed desserts and merchandise, such as cakes, key chains, jewelry, and business cards. It’s 100% family-friendly, so children are allowed. Another popular annual event is the Strawberry Fair in Tokyo, which takes place during the spring. The event includes a long lineup of Japan’s finest strawberries. Ask the locals in your city to discover more of such festivals.

Strawberry vs Japanese Pop Culture

Strawberry kimono girl Japanese anime manga style illustration

Japan’s love for strawberries extends to their favorite pop culture media: anime and manga. Below is a list of anime and manga that mention strawberries.

Card Captor Sakura: The strawberry picking field trip

Strawberry Picking anime scene.

In episode 38 of the anime series, the main character, Sakura, goes on an elementary school field trip with her schoolmates. The location is a strawberry farm, and the mission is to pick the red fruits. Their strawberry picking experience leads to them being trapped in a room but Sakura uses her magical powers to solve the problem.

Ouran High School Host Club: Mori shares strawberries

Episode 10 of the anime series sees Mori eating a meal of tea and strawberry cake at Haruhi’s home. Mori uncharacteristically offers some of his strawberries to Haruhi.

K-on!: Yui’s love for strawberry cake

The anime has a character named Yui, who loves her strawberry cakes and would get sad if you took them from her.

Making Memories with Japan's Strawberries

Fresh strawberries that are grown in greenhouses. Great day trip from Tokyo

We urge you to take advantage of life’s little pleasures by experiencing the joy and sweetness of strawberry picking in Japan. It will create lasting memories while indulging your taste buds. Feel like tasting some authentic Japanese strawberries? Try these exclusive white strawberries infused with chocolate. We also offer a chance for you to get a monthly supply of sweet Japanese treats, including strawberry-inspired desserts.

Get your Bokksu Snack Box Subscription and you’ll never run out of seasonal treats to enjoy.

Featured product

Author Bio