Ten unique Japanese fruits to try

Feb 4, 2018


 

If youre browsing through Japanese grocers, many of the fruits will be familiar to those you eat back home, while some will have a distinct appearance or be completely new altogether. Japans geographical isolation from mainland Asia has seen it cultivate many of its own unique fruit varieties, from incredibly juicy peaches to jumbo-sized grapes, together with many fruits that are long steeped in tradition and medicinal healing.

 

Eating fruit is an incredibly popular way to end a meal in Japan and theres a big market for luxury fruits which are offered to guests or as gifts! Fruit picking has also become a popular tourist attraction in many of Japans rural areas, offering the chance to see some of the countrys unique fruit varieties and also to taste them at their freshest.

 

So if youre visiting Japan and want to taste something unique, here are ten Japanese fruits to look out for.

Kinkan

Source : tourist-note.com

Similar to kumquat, kinkan are a citrus fruit with a sour inside and sweet peel, often eaten whole just like grapes. They are popularly made into jams and desserts, and traditionally revered as a remedy for colds, with strongly contrasting flavours.

 

Available November to February

Daidai

Source : tourist-note.com

With its name translating as several generations, these Asian bitter oranges are recognised as symbol of longevity in Japan. They are quite bitter and not commonly eaten as a whole, but often used as a New Years decoration and staked on top of mochicakes. Their skin is also dried into a peel used in the Japanese traditional medicine of kijitsu (枳実) and revered as a digestive tonic.

 

Available year-round

Mikan

Source : tourist-note.com

Often referred to in the west as tangerines, these small, seedless citrus fruits originate in Japan and are much loved for their sweet flavour and tender texture. Its thin, leathery skin is easily peeled compared to other citrus fruits, making them easy to eat and very addictive.

 

Available October to January

Shikwasa

Source : tourist-note.com

This small, green citrus fruit is common throughout the Okinawan Islands and they are a popular alternative to lemon or lime as a garnish. But they are also used to concoct juices and jams, with many village homes throughout the islands having long-established Shikwasa trees in their yards.

 

Available August to February

Ichigo

First introduced to Japan in the mid-19th century, ichigos (or strawberries) are one of the most popular and widely grown fruits in the country. They tend to be softer, sweeter and more heavily fragranced than regular strawberries, and are best bought in protective bags as they can spoil easily. They are heavily associated with love and often branded with romantic names, with the large and sweet varieties offered to loved ones as an expensive gift.

 

December to May

Kyoho

Source : tourist-note.com

These blackish-purple grapes are known for their sweet and juicy flesh, with a thick and bitter skin that is often removed before eating. They can grow surprisingly big for grapes (as large as a plum), and are either eaten raw or used to make chūhai vodka cocktails.

 

August to November

Nashi Pears

Source : tourist-note.com

These round, crisp and juicy pears differ from European varieties in having a higher water content and grainier texture. The Japanese prefer to serve them raw with the skin peeled off, and they are often given as gifts or offered to guests.

Available September to October

Kaki

Source : tourist-note.com

Also known as Japanese persimmon, these sweet and soft orange fruit ignite the Japanese countryside during autumn. They originated in China more than 2000 years ago and were long believed to cure body aches. There are basically two types of persimmons in Japan – Shibugaki and Amagaki. Amagaki (known as sweet persimmons) can be eaten as is, however with Shibugaki, astringency is needed to be removed using carbon dioxide gas so it becomes sweet enough to eat. Kaki can be eaten raw for a crunchy texture or in their soft and sweet, fully ripened state. For something really unique, look for the delicacy known as Hoshigaki which is persimmon that has been gently massaged while air drying.

 

Available November to February

Satonishiki Cherries

Source : tourist-note.com

While Japan is famed for its cherry blossom trees, most of these dont actually bear fruit, but the unique cherry known as Satonishiki is available widely. It was cultivated in Yamagata Prefecture in the early 20th century and is still celebrated here with local pride. They are bright red and sweet, with a long shelf life, and the best quality are considered a luxury fruit.

 

Available May to July

Momo

Source : tourist-note.com

Known locally as momo, peaches were first introduced to Japan from China around 2000 years ago, with unique Japanese varieties including Hakuhou, Hanayome, Hakurei and Shimizu. They are generally larger, juicier and sweeter than peaches found in the west, and are often sold in protective bags to stop them from spoiling. Okayamas peaches are particularly well known for their appearance in the folk tale of Momotaro (or The Peach Boy), while they are also grown throughout Yamanashi, Wakayama and Fukushima.

 

Available June to September

Tourist Note JAPAN

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