Autumn is here, which means it’s harvest time in Japan. Fukuoka Prefecture boasts many areas with beautiful, bountiful fruit orchards. On the following pages we introduce six orchards, each specializing in a different variety of fruit. All of these orchards are open to the public for a “pick-your-own” service.”. Picking your own fruit not only ensures optimum freshness, but it is also a good excuse to get outdoors and enjoy some country fresh-air and exercise. Then, for those who prefer not to get their hands dirty, but wish to enjoy the wholesome taste of country-style cooking, we also introduce two restaurants located in Fukuoka Prefecture’s countryside. Autumn is said to be the season when people’s appetites return, so itadakimasu and enjoy farm fresh produce!
Fukuoka is one of the leading fruit-producing prefectures in all of Japan. In terms of harvest size and production output, Fukuoka is number one in the nation for Fuyu-gaki persimmons, number two for kiwis, and third for Kyoho grapes. The fruit production in Fukuoka is primarily concentrated in the southern Chikugo area. The gently sloping hills, excellent water drainage system and exposure to the sun make the cities of Ukiha, Asakura and Kurume excellent places for producing persimmon fruit. Also, Fukuoka is the first prefecture in Japan to produce the slightly larger and sweeter Kyoho grape, with cultivation centered in Kurume, Tanushimaru, Ukiha and Yame. Moreover, Fukuoka was amongst the first to use a new innovative fruit ripening device, using ethylene gas to ripen kiwi fruit. Before shipping, this system made kiwi sweet, delicious, and ready to export to other countries. Of the areas that produce kiwi using this method, Tachibana-machi in Fukuoka is the top producer in the country. Fukuoka’s fruit farmers are working hard to continually adapt to the harsh conditions and tricky climate while also working to come up with new farming methods and breed superior fruit. Recently, fruits previously found in only tropical regions such as mango and dragon fruit have become possible to grow in Fukuoka. The concept of opening fruit picking to the public began in Fukuoka in the 1950s, and the practice continues today as an enjoyable event for families and individuals. As the summer heat slowly makes way for cooler autumn breezes, consider visiting one of the Fukuoka’s many fruit farms sometime soon.
Ukiha Kajuno Mura Yamandon
Within Ukiha, a fruit-growing town since the Taisho period (early 20th century), is an area that is often called “the origin of the fruit tree”. Fruit is grown throughout the year, including strawberries (Jan. ~ Jun.), blueberries (Jul.), grapes (Aug. ~ Oct.), pears (Aug. ~ Nov.), persimmons (Nov. ~ Dec.), and more. For pears, September is the golden month, when the sunlight is beaming down and spring water is drawn from 90m below the surface of the soil, producing sweet, juicy pears. At Mugoyoka, a quaint café overlooking the plantation, enjoy a taste of the orchard’s ripe fruit in one of their baked goods, such as the cake made from fresh-picked pears.
Address: 2212-7 Yamakita, Ukiha-machi, Ukiha City | Telephone: 0943-77-4174 | Open: Mid-Aug. to early-Nov., 10:00 ~ 17:00 | Closed: No Hol. in Sep., Wed. in Oct. and Nov. | Parking: 30 spaces | Entrance: Free | Fruit: ¥600/kg | URL: www.yamandon.com
With its noticeably larger size and sweet taste, Kyoho is the king of grapes. Tanushimaru is well known throughout Japan as the first successful location for a full-blown Kyoho grape cultivation, as well as the town that started grape and persimmon fruit-picking in Japan. The 2,000 m2 orchard grows Kyoho, Aki Queen and Honey Red varieties of grapes, all available for plucking until the end of September. Rather than using chemically-produced fertilizers, all fruit is cultivated organically for a sweet, unforgettable taste. Visit the café, Juran, at the entrance of the plantation to taste the popular homemade custard pie and jam made with Kyoho grapes and figs. This warm-hearted family business will capture your hearts, as well as your stomach!
Address: 482-1 Ishigaki, Tanushimaru-machi, Kurume City | Telephone: 0943-72-4528 | Open: Aug. to late-Sep., 08:00 ~ 18:00 | Closed: Never | Parking: 10 spaces | Entrance: Free | Fruit: ¥900/kg | URL: www.tanushimaru-budougari.com/en_pages/en24_juran.html
Eco Farm Yokomizo-en
With its relatively warm climate and efficient water filtration system, Minosanroku is the perfect environment in which to raise sweet, delicious figs. Preferring organic methods over chemically-produced fertilizers, the resulting fruit has become an instant hit. In this 1,000 m2 orchard, around one hundred trees are raised to cultivate Hakata Hourai and Dauphin, two varieties of figs. Ripe fruit can be picked until October.
This 5,000 m2 orchard holds around 800 apple trees, from which you can pick a variety of different apples until November. Using rice bran fertilizer to organically cultivate all plants, the trees raised in this Chikugo plain have a high level of sugar content to fit the hot climate. During fruit-picking season, the apple pies and hand-squeezed 100% apple juice are extremely popular.
Address: 1112-1 Hishino, Asakura City | Telephone: 0946-52-0374 | Open: Mid-Aug. to Nov., 09:00 ~ 17:00 | Closed: Never | Parking: 35 spaces | Entrance: Free | Fruit: ¥650/kg
Omichidani no Sato
Tachibana-machi in Yame-gun is a small country-town that boasts one of the top kiwi production outputs in the country. In Shiraki-ku, a section of the city encircling a mountain, kiwi fruit cover giant sections of the sloping plains. Experience a taste of the country-life by spending a night on the farm, which opens for sightseeing and personal fruit-picking in late October. Also, receive a 1kg kiwi omiyage for the ride home!
Address: 4578-1 Shiraki, Tachibana-machi, Yame-gun | Telephone: 0943-35-0760 | Open: Late-Oct. to Nov., (irregular business hours) | Closed: Never | Parking: 10 spaces | Entrance: ¥500 (1kg of kiwi incl.) | Fruit: ¥300/kg | Lodging: One night, morning and evening (2 meals incl.), Adult ¥6,000, Child 4,000 | URL: www.omitidaninosato.com
Even more surprising than the fact that dragon fruit are harvested in Fukuoka, is that anybody can participate in dragon fruit picking! Many imported dragon fruit are not in a fully ripe state, but here in this 1,000 m2 garden there are around 500 dragon fruit trees, with fruit ripe and ready for plucking. There are two types of dragon fruit: white and red. At the nearby plantation-run shop try a cup of dragon fruit gelato! Advance reservation is required.
Address: 3 Nanatue, Yanagawa City | Telephone: 0944-73-8120 | Open: Sep. to early-Oct., 10:00 ~ 16:00 | Closed: Wed. | Parking: 5 spaces | Entrance: Free | Fruit: ¥1,500/kg | URL: www.anrifarm.com
Wholesome Foods, Fresh Ingredients, Quality Dining
If strolling through soggy fields, bending over and stretching up to snatch fruit isn’t your idea of a fun Sunday, but you do enjoy getting out of the city and enjoying wholesome country-style cooking, here are two restaurants worth considering. Who knows? On your way back you might see a fruit orchard and be tempted to pick some.
East of Fukuoka
The graceful curves of this thatched-roof restaurant blend in with the mountains and rustic background, and a traditional cloth sign hangs down from the entrance to greet its customers. Healthy soil is essential for raising delicious ingredients, so this restaurant follows the motto of “working from the ground up”, allowing vegetables collected from their exclusively-owned plantation to retain maximum flavor. Soy sauce and miso made from carefully-selected soybeans, freshly-milled rice cooked each morning in an earthenware pot, soup with pork and ten assorted grains, and more, are all delicious ways to energize your body. Next door is an udon shop with noodles made from Kyushu wheat flower, as well as a tea shop with sweets and other various goodies.
Address: 395-1 Kushiya, Hisayama-machi, Kasuya-gun | Tel: 092-976-2112 | Reservation recommended | Open: 11:00 ~15:30, 17:00 ~ 22:00 (Sun. and Hol. 11:00 ~ 22:00) | Closed: Wed. (Thu. after a holiday)
West of Fukuoka
This traditional Japanese house has stood for 112 years, recently renovated as a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine. All food is prepared with a theme of ‘salt’, gathering its fish, meat and vegetables from the surrounding area of Itoshima. Owner Shuichi Hirakawa believes that in order to draw out the inherent flavor of a dish, salt is the essential ingredient, which years ago led him to begin his salt-making practice. Upon discovering the high quality of his salt, he decided to open his own restaurant. The time dedicated to making proper salt improves the quality of all dishes and allows the natural flavor to work its magic. Both full courses (lunch from ¥3,150, dinner from ¥5,250, plus one drink order) feature shiogamayaki (salt-baked fish or meat).
Address: 1454 Hon, Maebaru City | Tel: 092-330-8732 | Reservation required one day in advance | Open: 12:00 ~ 14:00 / 18:00 ~ 20:00 | Closed: Wed.