Japan is renowned for its fruit production, which has caused its fruits to be high-quality, uber-flavorful, and in most cases, quite expensive. These qualities also apply to the Japanese strawberry, a fruit known in Japan for its sweet flavor and stunning red color. This may lead you to wonder, what are Japanese strawberries, and what makes them unique?
Below, we dive into all things Japanese strawberry-related to answer the question, what's the deal with Japanese fruits like strawberries?
What is so special about Japanese strawberries?
Because of the high demand for strawberries in Japan, it's necessary for every strawberry sold to be of a high standard. This high standard has caused Japanese strawberries to be seen as some of the best in the world. To achieve this high-quality, producers continuously invent new Japanese strawberry varieties and unique cultivation methods. They also use strict quality control methods.
Every strawberry produced in Japan is checked for juiciness, sweetness, size, and other characteristics. An example of the innovation of strawberry growers in Japan is the shift in transportation packaging for overseas sales. Strawberries in Japan are famous for having a delicate, soft texture. While this is not an issue for locally sold berries, it was challenging to ship them abroad without damage. So, growers shifted to breathable padded packaging to allow the strawberries to remain fresh and unharmed during transit.
Japanese Strawberry Characteristics
A few characteristics set Japanese strawberries apart from strawberries in other countries. For one, Japanese strawberry varieties are known for their flavor. Unlike strawberries in the US, those found in Japan often have a sweet (not sour) taste. There is also usually a subtle acidity, making them very pleasant to eat.
Other characteristics of Japanese strawberries include a deep red color and the lack of a hollow center. With these characteristics in place, it's easy to see why Japan has the highest consumption rate of strawberries worldwide.
What do Japanese strawberries taste like?
You'll notice they're quite rich in flavor when biting into a Japanese strawberry. They have a much sweeter taste and a delightful juiciness than the varieties in the US, which are known to have a strong acidic flavor and a more sour taste. The sweeter taste in Japanese strawberries is due to the high sugar content cultivated in each berry.
Japanese Strawberry Varieties
Currently, there are over 300 varieties of Japanese strawberries. As mentioned, the high demand for these berries has caused strawberry growers to get creative with their offerings, as the competition is also quite high. Because of this, new strawberry varieties are born each year.
Only two varieties were available when strawberries were first cultivated in Japan in the 1960s. In the late 1990s, the Tochiotome strawberry was created. Since then, many strawberry varieties have become available in Japan. Below are a few of the top Japanese strawberry varieties.
Beni Hoppe Strawberry
When you head to a Japanese supermarket, you'll likely find this variety of strawberries. Beni Hoppe strawberries feature a delicious sweet and sour taste and a bold red color. They're more affordable than other varieties, so they're a great option for those who want to enjoy Japanese strawberries without the high price tag.
This type of strawberry is grown in the Fukuoka Prefecture. It has a slightly acidic strawberry flavor and a strong strawberry taste. Amaou strawberries (also known as the "king of strawberries") feature the best fruit characteristics, including a large size and delicious flavor. This variety is often used in various snacks, like Japanese Christmas cakes.
Japan's White Strawberry
While most strawberries in Japan are loved for their vibrant red color, Hatsukoi no Kaori, aka white strawberries, are popular for their lack of color. These strawberries feature a unique flavor that other varieties don't offer. They have a subtle, sweet taste and absolutely no sour flavor. Instead of white seeds, their seeds are red. These unique berries are typically offered as gifts for special occasions like weddings or birthdays. Since they have a higher cost (around $8 per berry), it's uncommon for this variety to be consumed daily.
Tochiotome strawberries were the first new variety created in the late 1990s. These strawberries are grown in the Tochigi Prefecture. They feature a distinct pointed shape that distinguishes them from other varieties. The Tochiotome strawberry is a popular choice in Japan and is loved for its balanced flavor, which features sweet and sour notes.
What is the most expensive Japanese strawberry?
Did you know that strawberries are one of the most expensive fruits in Japan? Raw strawberries can be sold at local grocery stores in Japan for $10 per berry (or more).
While $10 per berry may seem like a lot for delicious strawberries, it's nowhere near the cost of the most expensive strawberries in Japan, also known as Beautiful Princess (Bijin-hime in Japanese). The Beautiful Princess strawberry plants produce perfectly shaped and colored strawberries. Their flavor is also unrivaled by other varieties. These delicious strawberries are sold for up to $350 per berry. Not only is this the most expensive of Japan's strawberries, but it's also one of the priciest fruits in the world.
When is strawberry season in Japan?
Japanese people take fruit picking quite seriously, and it's offered for several fruit varieties. Strawberry picking is a particularly popular event for locals and tourists. While most other countries pick strawberries in the summer, Japan grows strawberries in the winter. The Japanese strawberry season extends from the beginning of December to later in May in Japan.
Maybe you're wondering, "How are Japanese strawberries cultivated in the winter?" If that's the case, know that this sweet fruit is grown in greenhouses, so most strawberry picking occurs inside, not outside. Growing strawberries in a greenhouse means Japan has this delicious fruit available year-round, regardless of the weather.
How to Enjoy the Flavor of Japanese Strawberries at Home
If you don't want to spend $10 per berry (understandably!), there are other ways to enjoy the flavor of a Japanese strawberry. For example, you can order Kubota Daifuku Mochi: Strawberry for a sweet, pillowy treat. Or, you can try Japanese Kit Kat: Otona No Amasa Strawberry, a Japanese strawberry/chocolate candy. These delicious Japanese sweets will allow you to taste Japanese strawberries without leaving the country (or your home). Consider ordering a Japanese subscription box with sweet and savory snacks for more delicious Japanese treats.