Strawberries were first introduced to Japan in the 1830s by the Dutch. By the 1990s, strawberry consumption had become widespread, and today nearly 300 varieties of Japanese strawberries have been developed, characterized by their uniform size and sweet flesh. Tochigi Prefecture, dubbed the “Strawberry Kingdom,” is one of Japan’s largest producers, best-known for its Tochiotome strawberry, created in 1996. Another famous strawberry is the juicy Amaou from Fukuoka Prefecture, developed in 2005.
A small but lucrative luxury market offers rare varieties, including enormous berries as large as 80 grams (3 oz.), and Japan’s unique white strawberries. Most strawberries are grown in greenhouses, with peak season falling from December to May. Many greenhouses allow people to enjoy strawberry-picking, so they can savor the berries fresh off the vine. They are also enjoyed in sweets such as ichigo daifuku, a surprising wagashi Japanese confectionery with a modern twist. In its center is a whole strawberry, surrounded by sweet azuki red bean paste, covered by soft mochi.
Other articles in this series
Explore food forum
The Japanese Table presents a variety of themes regarding traditional Japanese food culture. In each volume, a specific topic such as history, customs and food groups, is explored from several different angles.
Close-up Japan zooms in on current trends in food culture and popular food topics in Japan.
Japanese Style provides a brief introduction of Japanese food customs, etiquette and culinary techniques.
Tasty Travel takes you on delectable journeys. Each issue focuses on a specific regional dish.
Each volume introduces a total of eight attractive fusion-style and traditional recipes.
Special Report takes a look at people who are introducing Japanese cuisine around the world.