Okayama is pleasantly gifted with a mild climate with a higher chance of sunny days outrunning rainy days, in comparison to other parts of Japan. Okayama Prefecture is located south of Chugoku Region and Honshu Island. This makes it the perfect place for growing all kinds of sweet, high quality fruits such as white peaches and grapes, to enjoy in the harvest season! For that reason, Okayama is referred to as ‘Fruit Kingdom’ and ‘Land of Sunshine’. Participate in experiencing Okayama seasonal fruit picking at its best. Below we list and describe a variety of fruits that Okayama is well known for producing whilst suggesting places where you can pick your own fresh batch of seasonal fruits to pop into your fruit basket!
1.【Summer】Okayama Seasonal Fruit Picking
Photo via Sugueh
One of Japan’s biggest producers of white peaches is Okayama. Okayama white peaches are a cute oval shaped fruit. The tip of the fruit is coloured a faded red/pink, whilst the rest of the peach is a stunningly milky white color (white skin and white flesh). Here, their specialty white peaches are fragrant and taste deliciously sweet. The peach’s fruit pulp bursts with flavour, delighting your taste buds! Okayama produces many types of tasty white peaches! With this in mind, each type has its own unique taste and flavour that sets it apart from the rest, and the ripening season times are also different. Amongst these, the most popular is the ‘Shimizu White Peach’. The juicy ‘Shimizu White Peach’ has a soft feel with a sweet scent.
The Okayama peach farmers diligently raise the white peaches, putting in a great amount of time, work as well as effort. This is why the results turn out fantastic, combined with excellent weather and environment. The process of growing them involves choosing the peach buds to grow and bagging them. When small peach buds form, the farmers individually check the shape and size of the peach buds, in order to carefully choose and decide which high-quality buds should remain to develop and flourish. With time, these nutritious peach buds will grow bigger and bigger.
Here in Okayama, they use a technique referred to as ‘Bagging’ to cultivate the peaches. This technique involves covering the peach buds / fruit with a little paper bag that suits the white peach type, in order to develop the white peaches beautifully. Bagging reasonably blocks the sun to attempt to prevent too much direct sunlight. This affects the peach’s color and the effect is that the peach’s skin becomes white. It shelters the gorgeous white skin in order to ripen the fruit flawlessly. The portions of the white peach that are away from sunlight are soft, sweet and tasty, with a smooth feel and look. The bottom part of the peach is open to let in filtered light, which is why the peach has a little red/pink flush of colour.
Peach picking at fruit farms makes an excellent experience to engage in because it allows visitors to personally pick the best peaches and consume them right away. At Tomomien Fruit Farm, the plans range from limited time all-you-can-eat plans to bringing home peaches you picked as souvenirs (for this, you need to put in a reservation). These fruits certainly make the perfect gift.
Tomomien Fruit Farm
【Official website】Click here
【Address】218-1 Kamiichi Akaiwa city Okayama Prefecture
【Opening hours】9am – 4pm
【In season】Peach (late June – early September)
【Best season to go】Summer- June through August.
Shimizu White Peach is from late July till mid-August.
2.【Autumn】Okayama Seasonal Fruit Picking
Muscat and Pione Grapes
Photo via Nexttrip
Okayama is the major producer of grapes in Japan. When people think of Okayama, some people automatically associate grapes with Okayama due its popularity. Okayama’s famous grown grapes are guaranteed and recognised as one of the best for its fantastic quality, all thanks to the wonderful grape farmers who dedicate their time and affection into growing them. Here, the grapes are grown with a lot of care which explains how they achieved their beautiful appearance, without the harsh chemicals. The Okayama grape farmers have a long history with years of experience which is why they take pride in confidently cultivating their delicious grapes. Okayama’s grapes are special because of the distinct techniques used by grape farmers, as well as their passion for cultivating the best grapes! The process of growing grapes includes pruning them.
Okayama produces a wide range of different types of grapes. A few popular types are the Muscat of Alexandria, Shine Muscat and New Pione. Each type is indeed charming and unique in its own way. Also, the shape of the grapes are oval here.
Muscat of Alexandria
The high quality grapes representing Okayama are the ‘Muscat of Alexandria’. In fact, they are referred to as ‘The queen of the grapes’ and / or ‘Queen of fruits’. Here in Okayama Prefecture, the grapes ‘Muscat of Alexandria’ have been carefully grown by the hands of these hard working grape farmers for more than 130 years. For that reason, the grapes are super tasty because of the discovered brilliant techniques that have been passed down from the previous generations to the next. These grapes are stunningly green in colour. They look plump, smell fragrant and taste refreshing, sweet and flavourful. The ‘Muscat of Alexandria’ grapes have seeds and the skin should be peeled before you eat it.
Okayama is a major producer of ‘Shine Muscat’. The popular ‘Shine Muscat’ is a new type of Muscat. These beautiful delicious green grapes are of great quality, sweet and juicy. The grape is sweet as the sugar content is about up to level 20 which is considered high, while the acidity level is low. Upon biting into the grape, you will refreshingly taste a burst of flavour. They are large as well as plump in appearance and have a floral fragrant. The ‘Shine Muscat’ grape skin can be eaten, without having to peel it off because they are very thin. It is also easy to eat because it does not consist of any seeds within it.
New Pione is highly produced in Okayama and the grapes are referred to as ‘Black Pearls’. The ‘New Pione’ juicy black-purple grapes are large and plump in appearance. The grapes smell fragrant and taste delicious! It has the perfect balance between sweet and acidity. They have a rich sweetness and flavour to them. The grape’s skin is very simple to peel off and the grapes are easy to consume because it is seedless. Note that Japanese people tend to peel off the grape skin by simply pinching the grape, before consuming it. This is due to the fact that Japan’s grapes are bigger. Their grape skin is thicker, chewy and a bit bitter which makes it more difficult to eat, compared to Australian grown ones which are smaller and the skin is thin.
After the grape flowers blossom, vines form bunches consisting of over 200 tiny individual grape buds. If the grape farmers do not interfere and leave the bunches alone, then the fruit buds will not get much nutrients. Hence, the outcome of this will be small grapes or pressure between them may even result in a few grapes bursting. For that reason, grape farmers use scissors as a tool in pruning, which involves removing the spare or excess grape buds from these fruit bunches. The grape farmers carefully trim so that the grapes ripen well into an oval shape. They are mindful of and visualise the end shape when they are pruning. Pruning is not easy because the grape farmers must repeat this process constantly in order to produce lovely, big and sweet Okayama grapes that live up to its reputation. Of course, the producers only harvest their finest grapes! One of the ways they know is by checking the grape’s sweet and sour levels.
Grape picking at fruit farms makes a fun harvest experience because visitors are given the chance to pick and taste a variety of these fresh grapes as well as spot the differences between them. At Kubo Fruit Farm (Kubota Farm), the plans range from unlimited time/limited time all-you-can-eat plans to bringing home grapes you picked as souvenirs (for this, you need to put in a reservation). Here, you can try both the Muscat and New Pione grapes!
Kubo Fruit Farm
【Official website】Click here
【Address】2747-1 Mitsushitori, Kita Ward, Okayama, 709-2136, Japan
【Opening hours】9am-5pm daily
Muscat of Alexandria: Late May (greenhouse)-Early November (outdoors).
Shine Muscat: Early June- Late October.
New Pione: Late May (greenhouse)- Late October (outdoors).
【Best season to go】Autumn (Late Oct-Late Nov)
Also, grape picking is during Late Aug-Early Nov.
Muscat grapes, fruit picking：early September – early Nov.
New Pione grapes, fruit picking：late August – early Oct.
3.【Winter/Spring】Okayama Seasonal Fruit Picking
Photo via Explore Okayama
Okayama’s strawberry quality is one of the best, although strawberries are produced and found throughout the whole of Japan. Being that Okayama is referred to as the ‘Land of Sunshine’, it makes an ideal place to raise them because the sun helps produce strawberries which are sweet in flavour.
Here, there are many types of strawberries known to be big in size and sweet. One of the popular strawberry types Okayama produces is ‘Sachinoka’. These deliciously vibrant red strawberries from Okayama taste fresh and consist of the perfect balance between sweetness and sourness/acidity. Also, the shape is pretty. It is also called ‘Yuki no Kaori’, a strawberry that brings happiness.
Strawberry picking is exciting because you can enjoy them fresh and soft. At the popular ‘Noumaru Engei Kibiji Noen Farm’, this place is Okayama’s largest strawberry picking farm and a good place to pick them. Here, strawberries are grown and looked after in a greenhouse. This greenhouse is packed with them and some are huge in size. This is convenient as you can experience strawberry picking without the weather being a concern because it is indoors. At this fruit farm, the plans range from limited time all-you-can-eat plans (for this, you need to put in a reservation) to bringing home strawberries as souvenirs. It will be so much fun to personally pluck the ripe strawberries from the vine.
Here, they have 6 types of strawberries but it is only available within their specific season including ‘Sachinoka’. Also, if you try the other types, it will be interesting to compare the differences in taste!
Noumaru Engei Kibiji Noen Farm
【Official website】Click here
【Address】411-1, Nishi-gun, Soja City, Okayama Prefecture 719-1164
【Opening hours】March-Dec 9am-6pm. Jan-Feb 9am-5pm.
【In season】Strawberries: Early Dec-Late May.
【Best season to go】Winter (Dec-Feb) / Spring (March-May)
Strawberry picking (Jan-Late May)
Firm: Jan-March and softer: April-May.
4.【Autumn/Winter】Okayama Seasonal Fruit Picking
Photo via world.momotaros
Okayama produces a high volume of ‘Atago Pear’. This beautiful type of Japanese pear, originally from Okayama Prefecture, is the largest sized pear in Japan. In fact, this popular fruit is so huge that you may need to hold it with two hands to support it, and just one pear could literally be enough to feed a whole family. The appearance of the ‘Atago Pear’ has a golden-orange colour and the skin is covered in spots/dots. When you take a bite into it, it is crispy and juicy. The smell and taste is sweet.
You can have a blast by pear picking at Ishihara Farm. In addition to pear picking, you can eat them and since you have put in effort by personally picking them, the pears are guaranteed to taste even more delicious than they already are!
Ishihara Farm / Ishihara Orchard
【Official website】Click here
【Address】893-6 Sairyuji Higashi Ward, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture 704-8101
【Opening hours】10am-5pm daily. Fruit picking: 10am-approx. 4pm (Reservation needed).
Pear: Early Sep-Mid Nov.
Atago Pear: Mid Nov-Late Dec.
【Best season to go】Autumn (Sep-Nov) and Winter (Dec-Feb).
Okayama is a perfect place for those who love participating in local authentic experiences like seasonal fruit picking. It is truly a fruit heaven as an array of delicious fruits surround you. What’s even better is that you can enjoy them without feeling guilty to devour it as they are super delicious and healthy. Above all, get in touch with your senses as you can feel, touch, smell, look and taste the fruits! Indeed a hands-on experience your senses will not forget.