Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pear Picking In Kamagaya City

"There are only ten minutes in the life 
of a pear when it is perfect to eat."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
American essayist, lecturer, and poet

Pears plucking in Kamagaya city in Chiba prefecture.

One thing I love about living in a seasonal country like Japan is the chance to enjoy different kinds of delicious fruits throughout the year. Autumn is often associated with fruits like pear, peach and persimmon (looks like all of them start with the letter "P" hmmm...). The Japanese pear is more commonly known as nashi, which are generally larger, crispier and have a similar but lighter taste and a rougher skin compared to the Western pear. Furthermore, they are spherical rather than "pear-shaped". Nashi are mostly found during the late summer and autumn, and are generally eaten peeled. They have been cultivated by the Japanese since pre-historical times.

The second tour for the Chiba Kun Ambassadors took us to a pear plucking tour in the city of Kamagaya, in the northern region of Chiba prefecture. For the record, Chiba prefecture is the number one producer of nashi in Japan, while Kamagaya city ranks third in terms of the nashi produced in Chiba.

Ogawa Farm is one of the many fruit farms in Kamagaya city that offers visitors to experience plucking the fruits themselves.

Posing with the mascot of Kamagaya city - Kamatan, who came to welcome the Chiba Kun Ambassadors. By the way, was he blushing? Lol!

The list of fruits available for picking today - Niitaka pear, Niagara and Steuben grapes.

Fruit picking is a popular activity in Japan, both among the locals and tourists alike. Many farms across the country offer fruit picking opportunities to visitors. The typical procedure is for the visitor to get charged for a certain time period during which he/she can pick and enjoy the fruits on the spot.  Farms usually charge between 800 and 3000 yen, depending on the fruit being picked. The time allowed typically ranges from 30 to 60 minutes. Sometimes, farms charge based on the weight of the fruits retrieved, instead. The time of the year in which a particular fruit is available depends on the location and the weather. 

There are no less than 10 farms in Kamagaya city that offers fruit plucking for visitors. Among the fruits that are popular during autumn are Japanese pear, peach, grapes and blueberries. There are also stalls set up temporarily along the street that offers direct sale of these freshly harvested fruits, which sometimes the local call the street as the "nashi kaido" (梨街道) or "pear road".

How it looks like from the top of the pear trees.

The pear trees are usually about 1.5 meters tall; so even kids get to enjoy plucking the fruit by themselves.

Harvest them when they are fully coloured and detach easily. Roll them upward with a twist.

Found my pear, and ready to twist them around lol!

This time, we were taken to Ogawa farm, which is just five minutes walk from Kunugiyama station (くぬぎ山駅), running on the Shin-Keisei Line (新京成線). After a short introduction of the history of pear cultivation in this city, which apparently started more than 200 years ago, we were taken into the farm. In this farm, they have the popular Kosui (幸水) and Hosui (豊水) cultivars, and also Niitaka (新高), which is what we would get to enjoy on the day.

The branches of the tree was made to grow just about the height of average human's height; so that it will be convenient for people when they pluck the pears while standing below the tree. However, for an over-average person like me, it was quite a nightmare to walk around the farm, to be honest hahaha! I had to keep my body in a bending posture mostly all the time. Only once in a while, I get to stuck my head out through the openings at some spots.

The pears were so huge, that even the paper bag got torn off.

My harvest of the day. The cultivars that we pluck on the day was Niitaka (新高).

Enjoying the freshly harvested Japanese pears under the tree (photo credit: Madoka Usui).

A photo with Ishikawa-san (Director of Chiba Prefecture General Planning Department International Affairs Division)
and Usui-san from the International Affairs Division of Chiba Prefectural Office.

Kamatan thanking us for the visit. By the way, visitors can also buy back pears as souvenirs from the shop.

Basically, the eat-all-you-can concept is common in most of the fruit plucking farms. However, for our visit this time, we were limited to pluck only 2 pears per person. There were however, freshly cut pears on the table, which was specially prepared for the Chiba Kun Ambassadors. Nothing beats the feeling of eating these juicy pears under the pear trees. Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, "there are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat." 

There is something so sensuous about biting into a pear in its prime: first, the sweet juiciness; then the mild, but distinctive, sensation of texture. Enjoying the perfect pear requires patience; pears are one of the few fruits that don’t benefit from ripening on the tree. In fact, pears left unpicked tend to rot from the inside out. So pickers in prime pear-producing states are trained to identify when a fruit’s sugars are at their peak and time the harvest so that the fruits reach the market (or arrive by mail-order from companies) just as they achieve the perfect balance of sweetness and texture.

If you are planning for a pear plucking experience, Kamagaya is definitely the place to go!


Ogawa Farm (小川園)
Address: 4-4-3 Kunugiyama, Kamagaya City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan (千葉県鎌ヶ谷市くぬぎ山4-4-3)
Opening Hours: 09:00 - 17:00 (August 25 to mid-October)
Admission Fee: 900 yen (adult), 500 yen (children under 13 years old) (special discounts available for groups)
Website: http://www.kamagayasikankounougyoukumiai.info/ (Japanese only)
Tel: 0478-35-5071       Fax: 0478-84-7472
Parking: Available
Access: From Shin-Keisei Line Kinugiyama Station, walk 5 minutes


Rei said...

nak jadi Chiba Kun Ambassador juga la. Dapat jalan-jalan

calvin said...

Boleh jer, sambil jalan dapat makan sedap-sedap gak! :D