This special feature focuses on a “location” and a “theme” and introduces tourist information based around that location and theme. The location we have chosen this time is the city of Kamakura, located about 1 hour away from Tokyo by train, famous for the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu and the Kotoku-in Buddha Statue. For the theme, we have chosen the abundant strawberry harvest that happens during this time of year. Without further ado, please take a look at this surprising collaboration between Kamakura and strawberries!
Try strawberry picking at Kamakura City’s one and only strawberry plantation!
About 10 minutes’ walk away from Shonan Fukasawa station is the Kamakura Sightseeing Strawberry Farm that has been in business for over 30 years as the only strawberry plantation in Kamakura City. The farm offers a 30-minute strawberry picking experience in which visitors may pick and eat as many strawberries as they like.
Within the farm’s greenhouse there are bunches of strawberry fruits lined up side by side in waist-high planters. These planters are elevated so that the earth does not cling to the strawberries, making them easy to pick. They are delicious enough that you can enjoy them straight off the planter, but we recommend that you try eating them with the condensed milk that you will receive when you enter the farm.
According to the second-generation owner Gohara, the strawberries grown at the farm are a variety named “Benishizuka” that are notable for their large size and strong sweet flavor. I also tried one of these strawberries: when I held it in my hand it felt remarkably heavy and full of juice, when I bit into the strawberry it had a light and airy texture—a perfectly delicious strawberry.
The farm dedicates weekdays to raising the strawberries so they are only open on weekends. The strawberries are strongly affected by temperature and climate so it is recommended that you check their webpage in advance to see their open days and hours. They do not take individual reservations but they do accept reservations for parties of 20 people or more.
About the Kamakura Sightseeing Strawberry Farm
Address: 2 Chome-11 Fueda, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-0027
Telephone (Japan Only): 0467-31-5339
Open Days: December-May on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
Open Times: 10:00 ~ until strawberries are gone
Entry Fee: 1500~2000 yen for 6-year-olds and older, 1000~1300 yen for 1-year-olds and older. (Fee varies depending on time of year.)
Discover cute strawberry sweets!
If you’ve come all the way to Kamakura, don’t forget to visit the famous sightseeing spot Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. This shrine is a popular destination for the first shrine visit of the New Year (hatsumode) that many Japanese partake of on the first day of January.
As numerous shrinegoers head up the shrine road, the roadside food carts become equally numerous. What we found among these food carts were strawberry candies.
Strawberry candies are raw strawberries coated in a red candy shell. These crunchy and sweet candies blend the juicy natural sourness of the strawberries to create a fun and delicious sweet.
The candies cost 200 yen each. According to the shopowner, he sells them every year from January to May.
The shop does take days off and the Komachi-dori Shopping Street that runs from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu up to Kamakura Station is so packed with people some days that it seems like you can’t pass through. Among these lines of shops we found more strawberry sweets.
Winter-exclusive strawberry dumplings, 160 yen each
The store we found offered 4 white dumplings with strawberry paste and shiroan (sweet white bean paste) mixed together inside and a strawberry slice on top. These soft and chewy dumplings perfectly combine the sweetness of the shiroan and the strawberries.
For the final part of our trip, we took a bus from Kamakura Station headed for Hase-dera temple. What we found that we’d like to introduce you to are strawberry o-mamori. O-mamori are protective charms that are said to protect their owner from disaster and bring good fortune. According to the people at the temple, there are various of o-mamori such as paper talismans and wooden tags, depending on what the owner prays for. You might be wondering: Why strawberries?
The word for “strawberry” in Japanese is ichigo. The number 1 in Japanese is ichi and the number 5 is go, so it is possible to read the word ichigo as the number “15” by using phonetic reading. However, the proper Japanese reading of 15 is “ju-go” (the number 10 is ju), and the word ju-go can be read as a combination of the words ju-bun (“plenty”) and go-riyaku (“blessing”). For that reason, strawberry o-mamori¬ are commonly used by people who seek a blessing of plentifulness.
From October to February the shrine hours are shortened from 17:00 to 16:30. During this period the sun generally sets after 16:00 and if you come to the temple’s viewing platform you can enjoy watching a beautiful sunset.
From strawberry picking to sweets and souvenirs, why not try out a “strawberry journey” in Kamakura? There are many farms where you can enjoy strawberry picking outside of Kamakura but it is rare to find a place with tourist attractions and convenient public transportation to a strawberry farm.
For people who happen to be visiting Japan during the strawberry season, please give the strawberries of Kamakura a taste!