Strawberries Part 1: Tochigi #1 – Strawberries (いちご)

It’s gotten cold here recently, and snow has started falling in many places across Japan, including, to my utter surprise, in my area as well. (It’s too early! I’m not ready for winter!) One thing I look forward to in the winter season is the strawberries. These berries brighten up the winter season, and are added into cakes and sweets all winter. My favorite strawberry treat is called a “daifuku”, a whole strawberry wrapped in tasty mochi with red bean paste. I can’t resist these.

There are two prefectures who reign supreme in strawberry production, Tochigi and Fukuoka. We’ll look at Fukuoka next post and focus on Tochigi for this one. Strawberries in Japan are grown November to May, although increasingly they are available in the off-season as well. Tochigi’s most famous style is called “Tochiotome” and were developed in 1996. Living in the Kanto region as I am, these are the easiest to find at local grocery stores.

In fact, I went yesterday and bought a few packs for science! Let’s take a look:

Mmm strawberries

I bought the cheaper ones, so they aren’t necessarily Tochiotome, but they are definitely from Tochigi!

My mini postcard posing with the strawberries

And just for fun!

I also bought a pack of Fukuoka strawberries, so tune in to next week’s post to see the face off between the two! Meanwhile, I’ve got some strawberries to eat.

By the way, strawberry picking is a popular activity in the winter, and there are places all over Japan to pick besides Tochigi or Fukuoka. If you’re in Japan during the winter and have some time, why don’t you soak in the winter sunshine, pick some strawberries, and have a fun day out in the country? Here is a great list of places in the Kanto region you can pick at: click here.

2015.01.20: I’ve found a great video on Strawberries in Japan, including Tochigi’s and Fukuoka’s famous brands. It’s a bit long, but worth a watch for those with the time. It is from NHK’s BEGIN Japanology video, and you can watch it here.