The Amaou strawberry is a very special type of strawberry grown in the Fukuoka prefecture of Japan. Its name is an acronym derived from the best attributes of the fruit, and in Japanese it stands for amai (sweet), marui (round), okii (big) and umai (tasty). For these reasons, Amaou is known as the “king” of Japanese strawberries! Amaou strawberries are most well known for their bright red color, large size, and sweet flavor, and they are a very popular winter food in Japan. In fact, January 5th is known annually as Strawberry Day in Japan! Amaou strawberries have a rich history in Japan, and they are enjoyed in a wide variety of delicious seasonal snacks!
Strawberry cultivation began in Japan during the Meiji Era, and has taken off rapidly since then. There are approximately 300 different varieties of strawberries in the world, and Japan is home to more than half of them! Development of the Amaou strawberry began in 2002 and it took six years for the variety to be perfected. Today, Amaou strawberries are grown predominantly in Itojima, a city in Fukuoka, which has the ideal climate for the slow-growing process necessary to create juicy Amaou strawberries. With so many varieties of strawberries in Japan, the Amaou is truly special to have earned the title of king! Amaou strawberries are extremely well-regarded and are often given as gifts in Japan. However they are not a cheap gift—a single Amaou strawberry can cost up to 1,200 yen, which is the equivalent of $10 USD!
Amaou strawberries are delicious on their own, but there are also many different Japanese snacks that feature them! One traditional dessert that may have popularized strawberries as a winter food is Japanese Christmas cake. Strawberries are the star of this recipe, so a sweet, juicy variety like the Amaou is ideal. This Japanese cake is a simple sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries adorning the top, sometimes complemented by some Christmas-themed decorations as well. This is a classic Japanese dessert that highlights the sweet and fresh Amaou strawberry!
Strawberry daifuku (recipe here), Ichigo Daifuku in Japanese, is one of the most popular winter snacks in Japan. As with Japanese Christmas cake, a delicious strawberry is essential for this dessert, so the Amaou strawberry is a perfect option. Strawberry daifuku features a fresh strawberry surrounded by a layer of red bean paste and wrapped in mochi. This is a classic Japanese sweet that you can find at winter festivals, and it is also the inspiration for many other snacks, including a seasonal Kit Kat flavor.
Amaou strawberries can be expensive and are most commonly enjoyed fresh, so it can be difficult to find packaged snacks that feature them. However, if you’re interested in trying the delicious Amaou strawberry for yourself, you can find them in the Strawberry Parfait Langue de Chat featured in Fuubian's Gift Box! This cookie is a traditional French butter cookie with a fluffy Amaou strawberry filling that captures the flavor of a fresh Amaou strawberry!