Wakayama #3 – Persimmon (柿)

I feel like every post I apologize for taking a long time to post, and if I do it for every post, then it doesn’t mean anything, so I’m not going to apologize this time.

Instead, I’m going to tell you that fall is in full swing here in Japan, with the days growing cooler, the nights downright cold, and fall colors creeping their way across the country. One of the ubiquitous fall fruits is the subject of today’s post… everybody’s favorite persimmon!

We call these “kaki” in Japanese. Apparently Wakayama Prefecture is famous for these yummy little fruits, but that’s kinda like being famous for air… these guys are ALL OVER the country. I must pass 20 heavily-laden trees on my way to my local train station, and often have to dodge fruit splatter from unpicked fallen ones. Everybody’s got a tree.

So you can buy them in the supermarket, but I doubt many people do; instead, they get them from their own tree, or their neighbors. I went to a hamburger restaurant today, and they were giving them away by the door for free!

Wasn’t kidding.

My neighbor’s tree

My husband picked this one (with their permission of course!)

You can pick kaki all over Japan, but since I’m supposed to be focusing on Wakayama (sorry Wakayama!) you can pick persimmon from September until about December in Katsuragi (link) for instance.

Enjoy a persimmon for a nice taste of fall, and I will do a better post for poor Wakayama at another time!

2015.01.20: I found a great video on the history of the persimmon tree in Japan by NHK here. It’s a bit long, but has lots of interesting information. It also mentions one of Nara’s postcards as well.

Chiba #5: Edamame (枝豆)

My my, where has time gone?! It’s already October, and I’ve missed two weeks of posting! Recently I went to Tokyo for an interview. I barely took any pictures, but I did manage to make my way into Chiba for a brief visit in order to buy two postcards I’m missing.

Chiba is a prefecture that everyone knows of, being right next to Tokyo, but is totally and completely eclipsed by it. If you’ve ever flown into or out of Narita Airport, or visited Tokyo Disney Land or Sea, these are actually in Chiba… but I think most tourists don’t even realize that! It is a bit of an understated prefecture, and I’ll be the first to admit that while I’ve wanted to visit many areas of Chiba for the past few years, I usually just end up in Tokyo instead. Next year, next year I’ll go.

Anyway, so since I did manage to pick up my two postcards, I’d like to talk about them, starting with #5, edamame, or soy beans. These yummy plants took their time to find their way to the western world, but once they did, boy did they catch on! Who doesn’t love these beans! Not only are they healthy raw or slightly steamed by themselves, they also make lovely products such as soy sauce and natto (yuuummm…).

Besides enjoying edamame at any izakaya (Japanese-style bar) around the country as an appetizer, you can also head to Chiba and participate in picking these beans on a farm to take some home and enjoy. Fruit and vegetable picking is extremely popular in Japan, especially by those living in big cities who don’t get the chance often. There are two farms in Chiba who allow you to pick, Ponpoko Mura in Kisarazu City and Michi no Eki Kurimoto in Katori City. Both of those links are in Japanese, so if you want more information such as hours of operation and cost, and can’t find it, please feel free to comment with questions and I will do my best! Edamame are pickable from July all the way until November, so head on over to Chiba to grab some and enjoy!

Next up is about Chiba fans!

Peaches! Part 1: Okayama #5 – Okayama White Peach (岡山白桃)

Today I want to talk about peaches! Summer is a time when many fruits and vegetables come into ripeness, and it is a fun time to shop at local stores and farmer’s markets. Peaches are in season from around June into August, so we’re hitting the prime time to go peach picking now! Both Yamanashi and Okayama prefectures are famous for their peaches. Let’s talk about Okayama first!

Okayama is famous for its white peach variety. When I went to visit Hyogo and Okayama in 2012, it was just outside the season (very beginning of June), so I didn’t get a chance to try any. I think Okayama peaches are probably readily available at regular grocery stores in the South or in Tokyo, but out here in the country, I couldn’t find any. Too bad, I wanted a taste!

One reason Okayama is famous for peaches, is because the Japanese folktale of “Momotarou” (“Peach Boy”) is said to take place in Okayama. It is also the subject of Okayama’s first postcard, so I’ll be talking about that in Peaches! Part 3.

Meanwhile, to tide you over until my next post (I know, you’re on the edge of your seat), you can read more about Okayama’s peaches here or here. And if you’re in the area and want to grab some yummy peaches for your own, you can go peach picking at many places across Okayama. Find a farm to pick at here.

Enjoy some yummy peaches!