Some days I desperately crave fresh blueberries.
This was one of those days and I headed to the local supermarket. But all they had were the small teeny tiny plastic packets of 20 or so blueberries that cost 400 yen. Growing up in Michigan, it's nearly impossible for me to pay so much for so little. I should be used to it by now, but I can't. So I decided that I might as well go pick some myself.
Blueberries were first introduced to Japan in 1951 and the first blueberry farm opened in Tokyo's Kodaira-shi (小平市) in 1968. In the 90s, blueberries became popular in Japan due to their richness in anthocyanin and more and more farms began to produce blueberries. Even in Tokyo, several of the cities and wards have started promoting blueberry farms. So I just went through the list and randomly chose one near Koigakubo Station on the Seibu Kokubunji Line.
Matsumoto Engei (松本園芸) had a corner of their land dedicated to blueberries, but as it was still early in the season, I actually had the whole area to myself! I was handed a basket, which I learned you wrap around your waist, to pick blueberries. I felt like a professional.
It was a hot day but it felt good standing outside, stepping from bush to bush in search of blueberries. So much so that I definitely picked more than I had planned on. But it didn't take long to come to the conclusion that there can be not such thing as too many blueberries, so I picked a little more (I really couldn't stop) and then headed to the checkout.
The lady at the checkout who weighed my blueberries was so nice and friendly. We got to talking and I realized that their specialty is in producing poinsettias for Christmas. She showed me around their greenhouse which was already growing poinsettias in rows and rows of planters. It was all very interesting and she made my day by giving me a beautiful hibiscus plant as a gift on my way out!
It always amazes me how farmers can be so generous. I know that they give things away because they aren't able to sell them. But still, vegetables and flowers are quite expensive at times for me and the gesture always brightens my day. Especially because the hibiscus reminds me of Okinawa!
So, did you go blueberry picking this summer? (FYI: there's still time to go!) x
Here are some photos:
I cannot get over how beautiful the shades of gradation are on blueberries!
This is my pretty hibiscus plant!
I made blueberry lemon cheese tart when I got home...then promptly fell asleep :D
MATSUMOTO ENGEI (松本園芸)
2-39-6 Higashi-tokura, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo JAPAN
TEL: 042 321 7865
Blueberry Picking: 200 yen / 100g