Winter / Spring strawberry picking is popular for family and school outings in Japan from February through May. However, some of the winter strawberry green houses open for picking as early as mid December. Our local greenhouses, with public strawberry picking, open officially from next week. We got in ahead of the crowd and enjoyed a half hour of all-you-can-eat, pick your own, strawberries today in Yoshimi Town.
Ichigo no Sato in Yoshimi Town is one of the better known strawberry picking areas in Saitama. Ichigo no Sato is a “roadside station” (道の駅) on prefectural route 27. “Ichigo” is the japanese for strawberry and this rest area was so named due to the abundance of strawberry fields in the area. The rest area has a very nice playground, fruit and vegetable shops and stalls, an udon restaurant, an ice-cream van, a cafe & bakery, and facilities for people on long journeys such as restrooms and changing rooms. There is a strawberry picking greenhouse right beside the roadside station, but that does not open for business until later in the month. They provide maps in each of the shops to direct you to other strawberry picking facilities in the vicinity;
The price varies greatly between each strawberry picking farm, not only within Yoshimi, but surrounding areas too. Note, the price for strawberry picking in greenhouses changes as the weather warms, with December through March being more expensive than April and May. Logical when you think of the extra expense of keeping a greenhouse at the right temperature during the cold months. Speaking of which, greenhouses can often be uncomfortably warm and humid, especially if you are wearing heavy winter clothes.
The greenhouse we chose, ①-1 on the map, offered 30 minutes all you can pick and eat strawberries for 600 yen for a child aged 3 and up to 6th grade elementary school and 1200 yen for anything older than that. From April 1st, the prices come down to 500 yen for children and a 1000 yen for adults. If you want to buy strawberries you’ve picked, but haven’t eaten it costs 100 yen per 100 gram. 30 minutes was plenty time with young children. The website is http://www.geocities.jp/i_ichigoen/d-annai.html#d-ryokin (Japanese only). There is room for about 6 cars in front of the greenhouse and more were parallel parked on the road behind it. Their internet site says they have a toilet.
The prices, as well as contact details and webpages where applicable, of the strawberry farms on the above map can be seen in this photo below.
Nearby Attractions include:
There are strawberry picking areas in the neighbouring town of Kawajima too. Most of those farms are still closed for business, but there is one open called Strawberry Hunt. These greenhouses also often 30 minute all-you-can-eat, but at the more expensive price of 1,600 yen for adults and 1,100 yen for children from January through May. The address is 1072 Mushizuka, Kawajima Town.
Other areas in Saitama known for strawberry picking include Chichibu City, Ranzan, Yokoze and Kawajima Towns. Our favourite is in Sakado and that one has a play area too:
If you can read Japanese, you can find links to strawberry picking farms on the Saitama prefectural website. For an overview of the fruit picking seasons, Japan Guide has a good summary here.
FOR A LIST OF STRAWBERRY FARMS IN ENGLISH, WITH AREA, TELEPHONE NUMBER, URL AND SEASON DATES PLEASE SEE http://kajapan.org/places/strawberry-picking-in-kanto/