Posted by Heliocentrism on September 18, 2016
Sunday, August 28, 2016
When I lived in the US and I wanted a fruit, I would just go to the supermarket and buy that fruit. For example, if I wanted apples I would just drive over to Publix and buy a bag of apples. There would be about 8-10 apples in a bag and it would cost me about $3-4.
Things do not quite work that way here in Japan. When I want apples, I first have to look at a calendar. “Is it still apple season?” If it is apple season, at the supermarket there is a choice of getting a bag of 5-6 good apples for about $5-6 or getting a pack of 2 very good apples for $5-6. Or, I could go crazy and buy one really good apple for about $4.
The really good apples are really good. But, they’re still just apples. They don’t cure cancer or anything. They are more delicious than the good apples, just not $3 more delicious. I prefer to buy more of the lower quality, but still good, apples.
The other day I went to the supermarket looking for a bag of apples. There were none. All that was for sale was the individually wrapped single apples for 395 yen (about $4). “Oh no,” I whined, “Is apple season over?” I stood in the produce area contemplating buying an overpriced apple. Just the previous week I had bought a bag of apples without a care in the world. Had I known that apple season was coming to an end, I would have bought 2 bags the week before.
“Apple season isn’t over,” Mark said. “Are you sure?” I asked. I have no idea when apple season is. In the US apples are always on sale in every grocery store year round. “I saw a poster for a fruit farm right here in Miyoshi,” Mark explained. “Apples are in season right now.”
“They grow apples here in Miyoshi?” I was shocked. Our little town had almost nothing interesting in it. “Yes,” Mark assured me. “You can go visit and pick apples when they are in season.” So the next Sunday we went to the Hirata Farms to pick apples.
Hirata Farms, also known as Miyoshi Fruit Forest, has many types of fruit to pick. When we went we had a choice of apples, grapes, or peaches. There are two types of tickets one can get. One is the eat-here option, the other is the take-home option.
If you buy the eat-here ticket, you can pick as many of a fruit as you want, but you have to eat them all in the orchard. The take-home option allows you to take home the fruits you pick, but you are limited in the number of fruits. You have to buy a booklet with many coupons and turn in a certain number of coupon for each fruit you pick.
The lady at the counter showed me the coupon book. You get a book of coupons with your ticket, but you can also get a supplemental book of coupon should to end up picking too many fruits. She tried to explain how the coupons matched up with the fruit. It was something crazy like, to pick an apple you need to turn in one blue coupon and 2 red coupons, or 5 yellow coupons. A peach would cost 3 pink coupons and 1 yellow coupon, or 5 green coupons, or ¾ of a blue coupon and your first born son’s hand in marriage.
None of the prices for any of the fruit we could pick ourselves compared to the prices of fruit bought at the store. This was not like a You-Pick back in Florida. There were no deals to be had here. This was fruit Disneyland but, instead of riding Space Mountain, you picked apples.
We selected the tickets for the eat-here option. The math was straightforward and without the potential need to buy additional coupons. Luckily it was around lunch time and we hadn’t eaten yet.
“We should get tickets for apples,” Mark said, “because I think I can eat more apples than grapes.”
“Really?” I answered suspiciously. “Personally, I can eat 2 maybe 3 apples in one day, max. But I’ve never stopped at 3 grapes in one sitting.”
Mark gave me some serious stink-eye for my comment then paid for 2 apple tickets.
We walked over to the apple orchard and carefully picked some apples. I tried to get the reddest apples I could find. The best looking ones were the ones just out of reach. I stood on my toes and stretched my arms out for the high-up ones.
After walking among the trees and finding 2 apples each, we sat down. We were given each a knife and a bucket for the peels. We cut off the skin of our apples and ate them. They tasted like the really good, individually wrapped apples from the store. They were big, crunchy, and juicy. Apple juice ran down our arms as we peeled and ate our fruit.
We ate 2 apples each. Then Mark picked an apple from the tree we were sitting next to. I found another apple a few trees down. My eating slowed down quite a bit on my third apple. Mark finished his fourth apple as I started on my third.
They apples were delicious. But, 3 apples is really my daily limit. I forced down the last quarter of my third apple as Mark peeled his sixth, and final apple. We were like human pies—filled with apples.
We walked around the farm looking at all the other fruit. There were some animals in pens, but the farm is mainly for fruit. We thought about getting a pizza. (This place is supposed to have good pizza.) But, we couldn’t eat anything after all those apples.
Now fall is about to begin bringing with it persimmons. The stores will stop selling bags of apples and start offering bags of persimmons. I love persimmons so much! I can hardly wait.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
- Coordinates 34°41’06.0″N 132°54’46.4″E
- 1740-3 Ueda-machi, Miyoshi 728-0624 ,Hiroshima Prefecture
- 〒728-0624 Hiroshima Prefecture, Miyoshi, 上田町1740-3
- There is very little information in English.
- All you can eat (varies with each fruit):
- 700 Yen per person — Apples
- You have to eat the apples there.
- All you can pick:
- Requires an advanced degree in Applied Mathematics and evolves a coupon book.
- Closed: Thrusday, Friday
- March – November 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- December – February 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Some of the restaurants close at 15:30.
Yearly Blooming Schedule