Happiness ... is strawberry-picking time! Photo taken at Ichigo Fields, Ibaraki

Happiness … is strawberry-picking time! Photo taken at Ichigo Fields, Ibaraki

In the heart of winter, we sometimes run out of ideas for field trips, other than trips to the mountains for ski or snow activities. Here’s an idea I’m sharing with you, take the kids out strawberry-picking … you won’t regret it!

Not many people know that… around the New Year, one of the things you can do on the fringes of the Tokyo Metropolis, is to take the kids out to the glasshouse strawberry farms.

Glasshouse grown strawberries for better control of the ideal temperatures and a larger harvest

Glasshouse grown strawberries for better control of the ideal temperatures and a larger harvest

Although the strawberry plants are not as heavy-laden and abundant with fruit as they would be during the spring-picking season, the advantage you have is that the farms won’t be thronging with tourists … you are likely to be just about the one or two customers at the farm that day. My son was able to have (to his heart’s content) a long discussion and to field all sorts of questions to the farmer on how to grow premium strawberries … he has been growing and managing our own plot since he was about six years old. Yes, they talked about fertilizers, weather control, pests, disease and pollinating bees, and more…

Amateur strawberry farmer tasting all twenty varieties of strawberries

Amateur strawberry farmer tasting all twenty varieties of strawberries

Visiting the farm slightly before the tourist season, also means you will also have likely have the entire farm to yourself … and have plenty of fruit to gorge yourself on … and perhaps even have a box of free fruit to take away for jam-making, like we did.

Free fruit to take away ...

Free fruit to take away …

After picking all-the-strawberries we could eat, we relaxed by the cozy stove, drank amazake rice wine … most farms will have a range of souvenirs and other foods to buy as well.

Get drowsy by a cozy woodstove

Get drowsy by a cozy woodstove

I have always enjoyed taking the kids out to farms to try and see the food-chain, and to appreciate the processes and the hard work of the farmers who feed the voracious appetites of city-folk like us!

The children making jam with the fruit we were given (from start to finish ... without my help)

The children making jam with the fruit we were given (from start to finish … without my help)

The kids made enough jam to fill a large ice-cream tub

The kids made enough jam to fill a large ice-cream tub

Aileen Kawagoe

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P.S. The above pixes are from our New Year’s Day (Jan 2, 2014) trip to Ichigo Fields, a small strawberry farm run by a lovely young-and-hip couple, the strawberry farm is attached to a rice farm in Ibaraki Prefecture.
P.P.S. Just google “strawberry picking in Japan” if you want to know where to go