Strawberries are one of Tochigi’s most renowned products, so visiting a strawberry farm is a must do activity when in the area. As the largest producer of strawberries in Japan, Tochigi has been given the nickname Strawberry Kingdom. With that being said, choosing the best place to get your fill can be a bit overwhelming since there are so many places to choose from. Yoshimura Strawberry Park is a great place to satisfy your appetite!
Outside Yoshimura Strawberry Park
Personally I have been to several different farms around Tochigi. There’s no doubt I left each one overstuffed and satisfied; however my visit to Yoshimura Strawberry Park was far more memorable than the others.
First and foremost, this place is located in Mashiko town. It is in a great location to not only feast on berries, but to do some sightseeing. The farm is fairly close to Mashiko station and is a breeze getting there on a rental bike from the tourist association next door. It is also close to Tonoike sake brewery that offers brewery tours and sake tasting and just a five minute walk from Kitayama station on the Moka Railway Line. While other farms may offer delicious strawberries, they are sometimes located in areas with little to see and may be hard to access without a car.
Yoshimura Strawberry Park
The next notable thing about this farm is how well it is maintained. Upon arrival the owner of the farm, Soichi, greeted us with a big smile and welcomed us to try as much as we wanted. He even gave us a brief explanation about the farm in English! The park was tidy with no signs of mud or left over strawberry pieces scattered around from prior groups. The green houses are spacious and easy to navigate through each row while picking strawberries— so much so that customers with baby strollers and wheelchairs can even be accommodated.
Although it was my first time visiting, the farm seemed fairly new but popular as several other groups had gathered at the entrance. Yet, during the strawberry picking experience, the groups were spread out amongst the green houses. It felt far from a tourist trap and on the contrary, it was as if we had the farm to ourselves! Furthermore, there is no time limit during your all you can eat experience. Other parks sometimes limit your stay to just 60 minutes.
Entering the green house was very exciting. I had never seen so many different species of berries in one place before! A unique thing about this farm is that it doesn’t just grow one species either. There are several species of strawberries to try including the famous Tochiotome and Skyberry strawberries from Tochigi, of course. My favorite was the Kaorino species from Mie which had the appearance of a strawberry but a flavor similar to a peach! The other species of strawberries offered are: Milkyberry (Tochigi), Nyohou (Tochigi), Tochihime (Tochigi), Benihoppe (Shizuoka), Akihime (Shizuoka), OiC Berry (Nagasaki), and Mokiko (Miyagi). Getting to compare the flavor and texture of strawberries from Tochigi with those of other prefectures was a lot of fun.
After eating to your hearts content, the farm has a small shop you can visit and wash up at. Packs of strawberries to bring home as souvenirs are available for purchase. There is a bench outside with cute strawberry decorations that will make for a great photo spot. Yoshimura Strawberry Park is an excellent place to come with friends, family, or even a date. Start planning your visit for strawberry season (from December to May) today.
My trip to Mashiko in spring opened a whole new perspective of how I could enjoy Japan’s countryside. I had so much fun doing all the activities but most importantly I got the chance to experience its culture and learn about its traditions, which makes the trip a lot more memorable. There are still so many more things you can do, and ways to enjoy Mashiko in the spring. If you plan to visit Mashiko, a day tour is a good idea but if you have more time, I definitely recommend a few days stay so you could enjoy as much as the town could offer.
Strawberry Picking Season: December – early May
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