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Enjoy While in Season! Six Select Mikakugari Opportunities to Taste the Fall Flavors

In Japan, the fall is called "the season for great appetite," because it is the time of year that a large variety of food comes into season. Here are some places for fruit and vegetable picking, or "mikakugari" (hunt for flavors), which is the perfect activity for this season.

What is "mikakugari"?

"Mikakugari" (meaning to hunt for flavors), are opportunities offered at tourist farms and orchards to pick your own vegetables and fruit. You can eat them there or take them home. They have recently become very popular among foreign tourists visiting Japan.
Each farm has a different system, such as "all-you-can-eat for a limited time" and "by volume picked," so be sure to check in advance. Also, don't forget to confirm whether you need reservations, and how individuals and groups can register.

Grape Picking

Grape picking is available primarily between August and October each year. There are vineyards throughout the country, but Yamanashi, Yamagata and Aichi are famous for them. The best grapes are plump with dark coloring throughout. If they are green varieties, slightly yellow ones are best. Don't pick individual grapes, but pick enough of them as bunches to either purchase or eat.

Japanese Pear Picking

Japanese pear picking can be enjoyed primarily between August and October each year. Many of the pear orchards are located in Shiga, Tottori and Chiba. The best pears are large ones that are hanging at the tip of one of the smaller branches. Choose firm ones that have substantial weight to them. Almost all the farms provide the necessary tools, such as knives and scissors.

Chestnut Gathering

Chestnut gathering can be enjoyed primarily between September and October each year. Many of the orchards are in Osaka, Gifu, and Hyogo. The best chestnuts are those that are shiny and have substantial weight. Beware that those with holes in them have been eaten by bugs. Also, keep in mind that you should not shake the trees as unripe chestnuts may fall to the ground. Chestnuts cannot be eaten raw, so be sure to cook them before eating. In Japan, they are often cooked with rice or made into a dessert called Kuri-kinton.

Mushroom Picking

Mushroom picking can be enjoyed primarily between September and November each year. Major mushroom farms are in Osaka, Kanagawa, and Saitama. There is a wide variety of mushrooms that can be picked, including shiitake, nameko, buna-shimeji, maitake, and matsutake. Some farms have barbecue restaurants where you can cook and enjoy the mushrooms that you've picked.

Sweet Potato Harvesting

Sweet potato harvesting can be enjoyed primarily between September and November each year. Many of the farms are in Osaka, Chiba and Kanagawa. Generally, the best sweet potatoes are heavy, thick, shiny with no blemishes or wrinkles, although it depends on the variety. The fibers growing out of the potatoes indicate that they are high in fiber, but you may want to avoid one with fibers if you don't like the texture. Like chestnuts, sweet potatoes cannot be eaten raw, so be sure to cook them. Some recommended ways of cooking them is to simply bake them or make them into desserts. There are some farms that will bake the potatoes for you on site, so why not give them a try?

Apple Picking

Apple picking can be enjoyed primarily between September and November each year. Many of the orchards are in Nagano, Yamanashi, and Aomori. The best apples are shiny and have good color, a large dent at the bottom, and have thick stems. There is a wide variety of apples in Japan, so be sure to research the type that you like based on factors like sweetness and acidity when looking for places to go picking.

Picking fruits and vegetables to mikakugari is highly recommended if you are visiting Japan in the fall. Keep in mind that prices may differ by variety even if they are the same fruit or vegetable and the variety available may change by the time of year.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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