Japan: Springtime is strawberry time

In Japan, strawberry picking is a popular spring activity. When the fruits become ready to pick in early January, many families flock to strawberry farms, some even making a trip to famed picking spots in mountainous regions, to enjoy the sweet, red fruit in season.

Sugiyama Strawberry Farm is a scenic farm against the backdrop of Mount Fuji and other mountain ranges. Known as one of the most popular strawberry picking sites in the region, 3,000 to 5,000 people visit the farm throughout the season, with no less than 100-120 visitors each weekend, according to the owner, Hiroshi Sugiyama.

An admission price of 1,400 yen ($13) gets you inside the greenhouse. Sugiyama gave us condensed milk in a plastic cup to dip our strawberries, and showed us how to find and pick the sweet fruit.

Sugiyama always gives the same advice: “Choose smaller berries that are red, as they are usually sweeter and tastier than big ones. And white berries don’t mean they weren’t ripe. They are ripe and tasty, just like red ones. So, pick both red and white fruits and compare them to each other.”

According to japan.stripes.com, although Atsugi has moderate climate and temperature, which is suitable for farming strawberries, Sugiyama grows the strawberries in a greenhouse, like most of other farms throughout the country. The reasoning according to Sugiyama is that the greenhouse protects from wind, rain, birds and insects.

Six types of 9,000 strawberry seedlings are cultivated in the Sugiyama’s greenhouse, and three of them, Akihime, Sachinoka and Benihoppe, are available for picking.

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