It’s August! Which means that anyone passing along Fukushima City’s Fruit Line will be greeted with sights of countless orchards, most with trees full of bright, pink peaches.
Fukushima Prefecture’s peaches are famous both at home and abroad. Fukushima’s peaches are particularly popular in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, where they are imported by the ton! (This isn’t even an exaggeration!)
What makes Fukushima’s peaches special? I visited Marusei Orchard in Fukushima City to find out from the pros.
Marusei Orchard is one of the more famous orchards in Fukushima City. Not only do they grow a big range of fruit, but they have no problem welcoming guests from abroad, as members of staff are armed with handy POKETALK portable interpreting devices!
Marusei is so well known that it just so happened that the day of our visit coincided with a television station visiting the orchard to interview Mr Sato, the owner!
I was lucky enough to have Sato’s wife show me around the orchard. She drove us around in her very speedy farm truck (I can’t think what the right word for this is – any suggestions are welcome!). She made sure to point out the areas where different fruit was growing on the way to the fields of peach trees.
I always find it very relaxing to drive around on the back of this little truck when I visit the orchard. It’s really nice gazing out at all the different types of fruit growing, while the wind blows across your face. Especially when the weather is so hot!
We passed by fields full of cherry trees, which were just reaching the end of their fruit-bearing season. Then we stopped by to look at some pears, which have just started growing. We then checked out the grapes, which will be gaining some colour in the coming months. Mrs Sato explained how the workers on the farm control how many grapes grow on one branch by picking off the tiny buds which start to form. This ensures that each grape gets a nice, even spread of energy from the tree.
Next, we arrived at the peach trees! Mrs Sato told me about how Fukushima City’s unique location sheltered between two mountain ranges, combined with its climate, makes it a perfect region to grow juicy and sweet peaches.
Although last year’s lack of rain during the wet season made fruit production a bit difficult, there has been plenty of rain this year, so the peaches are looking at their absolute best!
One of the reasons that Fukushima is so special out of all peach-producing areas in Japan is the quality of its Akatsuki peaches, which is a variety that grows from mid- to late August.
Marusei Orchard grows 15 varieties of peaches in total each summer. This means visitors can enjoy a long peach-picking season here, starting in early July and carrying on until late September and sometimes even early October!
I would recommend coming during mid August, so you can try Akatsuki peaches and see what all the fuss is about!
The price of “pick your own” experiences differs depending on the orchard, but at Marusei Orchard you can pick (and eat!) as many peaches as you like within 30 minutes for only 800 yen. (1100 yen at the weekend)
The owner of Marusei Orchard let me in on a little secret – that the most ripe peaches are the ones at the ends of the branches that hang low down to the floor. These are the ones that get ripe first, so you should try and choose peaches from the tips.
Also, she taught me that the perfectly round / filled-out peaches are also likely to be the most ready to eat. They’re probably going to be even more delicious if they have small dark flecks on their underside too!
Japanese people tend to be divided between those who like peaches super sweet and juicy, and those who prefer them a bit more tart, with a bit of crunch – so it’s important to try and pick a few different looking peaches and discover which type you enjoy the most!
When you come to Marusei Orchard, I highly recommend you go to their café and enjoy one of their seasonal parfaits.
They have gained quite a reputation in and out of Japan, and their peach parfait is no exception.
The café gets pretty crowded, so I recommend visiting the café first, writing your name down on the waiting list, and then going to do your peach-picking experience for 30 minutes to cut down on waiting time!
Different Orchards in Fukushima
There are over 40 orchards in Fukushima City, many of which you can see featured on the map below. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of the shape of the Fruit Line road, and show you just how prolific the area is in terms of fruit production.
Can I take home the peaches I pick there?
At Marusei Orchard, you can only take home apples and pears picked during a “picking experience”.
But don’t worry, if you still want to eat more after your 30 minutes is up, there are plenty of freshly-picked peaches at the front of the orchard to buy and take home.
Marusei Orchard even organizes a shipping service so you can send peaches straight from the orchard to anywhere in Japan.
Location and getting there
- See here for Fukushima Guide’s information on the various orchards within the city, including what type of fruit-picking experiences you can do there and how to reach them.
- See here for their page specifically about peach-picking
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