Your mission, if you choose to accept it, and I’m sure you will, is to pick and EAT as many strawberries as you can in 30 minutes! Condensed milk will be supplied.
Just outside of Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture is the Tado Green Farm, opened in 2004 and famed for its all-you-can-pick (and eat) strawberry courses.
Visitors pay between 1,800 and 1,200 Yen (Prices vary depending on month, details below) for a 30 minute course of pick and eat all you can strawberries. All are provided with a small clear plastic tray to leave the green frilly bits from the top of the strawberry in, and a small tray of condensed milk, refillable at the door. (I cheated and brought my own tube of milk!)
30 minutes? That’s not enough! Or so I thought when I first went there too, but the strawberries were so big, sweet and juicy, that ten minutes into the course, I was stuffed! My grand total, 42 strawberries in 30 minutes! According to the owner, high end consumption is about 55! A maximum of 25 people fill one course, and depending on the day and time, you’ll have to book in advance or could well be the only ones there!
The strawberries grow in special barrier free hothouses. Each veneer covered hot house is 40 meters long, seven meters wide and contains between 35,000 and 40,000 strawberry plants, growing in multi layered rows. The hot houses are kept at an average of about 25 degrees C., ideal conditions for growing the four different varieties of strawberry on offer, and invitingly warm on a cold winters day!
At the time of writing there are 17 rows of hot houses, with more scheduled to be constructed over the following few years. The strawberry season is one of the most popular visiting times at Tado Green Farm, lasting from December to the end of May, with the first three months of the year said to be the best. Other times of the year provide a bounty of other fruits, such as blueberries during July, kiwi fruits in October, figs from early August to late September, beans between April and May, and mini tomatoes are available all year round. You can dig up your own peanuts, spring and sweet potatoes, pluck your own onions and pick your own herbs at various times of the year too!
The Tado Green Farm main complex contains a small food café selling rice balls, udon noodles, curry rice and a range of simple meals, sweets and drinks, with indoor tables and chairs provided. In the summer months, outdoor settings are also available for patrons use and BBQ facilities too! The large back room is a fresh fruit and vegetable greengrocer store, with inexpensive, yet high quality locally grown produce a specialty!
Having been featured in a number of travel magazines, TV programs and newspapers, cars sporting number plates from Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo and nearby Nagoya fill the fruit farm’s free car park, and please remember to book your time in advance just to be on the safe side! Many visitors to the nearby Nabana No Sato stop by during the day for a strawberry snack before heading on to the gardens and winter illuminations, or some of the many other local attractions.
Tado Green Farm’s owner, Yokoi San doesn’t speak much English, but is fluent in Portuguese having lived in Brazil for a number of years as a soccer player. While he may not have become nationally famous as a soccer player, he’s been crowned the Strawberry King of Japan! All hail the Strawberry King!