Japan’s Fruit-Picking Tourism

Fruit Picking in Rural Japan Growing in Popularity Among Foreign Tourists

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The increase in foreign visitors engaging in fruit-picking tourism in Japan indicates there’s significant growth potential in this industry. Nowadays, people traveling prefer experiences instead of material goods. A recent survey discovered that visitors to the country rate fruit picking as a high-priority activity. And, as the global reputation of Japanese fruits grows, farms around the country will benefit by getting in on the act.

What Fruits Can you Pick?

A number of companies have already gotten involved in farm tourism. One such farm is a strawberry farm in Chikushino, Fukuoka. Japanese strawberries have a name for being of high quality. So, the opportunity to pick and sample them is difficult for tourists to resist.

Between November 2017 and May 2018 about 4,200 people visited Chikushino Strawberry Fields. This accounts for a 1.5-fold increase on two years previously. It has recently branched out to open a cake shop, baking cakes with the fruit from the farm. And visitors can also attend jam-making classes.

Kichijien Farm in Kumamoto provides tourists with the chance to pick grapes and apples from August to October.  This fruit farm attracts around 10,000 visitors per year. The owner has formed alliances with other farms, organizing tours for tourists to visit farms in the area.

This business model needs more investment to make it a viable and operable tourist attraction

Visitors to the fruit farms can select a time option, from say 30 minutes to one hour. In that time, they can pick as much fruit as they want and it’s theirs to eat or take away. Another option some farms use is to charge visitors by the weight of the produce they gather.

Moves to Improve Accessibility for Tourists

The website ‘Japan Fruits’ provides information for tourists on around 780 farms and their produce. It is a much-needed resource as many overseas visitors were unsure about what fruits are harvested, and when. It’s certainly a good start but more work needs to be done to make information accessible to tourists. Both on a national and local level.

A survey by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry found that revenue collected by these fruit farms is still relatively low. But, considering the recent growth, the potential is there to build them into successful businesses, and also help revitalize rural communities.

Fruit-picking tourism is an industry that has scope for many farms operating in rural areas. But, this business model needs more investment to make it a viable and operable tourist attraction. It’s really important to market these fruit farms to draw foreign visitors out of the cities and into the countryside. A lot still needs to be done but it is certainly and interesting and wholesome experience for people traveling to Japan to engage in.

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

Fruit-picking is a great idea for Japan to develop further to advance rural tourism, and reach the national tourism goals set by the Japanese government.

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Written by Catherine McGuinness

Writer and Journalist with a love for all things Japan.

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