The Blueberry Picking in Koigakubo

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.
I couldn’t go all the way to Saitama like last summer, so I hopped on a train for Kokubunji. 
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 😀

MATSUMOTO ENGEI (松本園芸)
2-39-6 Higashi-tokura, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo JAPAN
東京都国分寺市東戸倉2-39-6
TEL: 042 321 7865
Blueberry Picking: 200 yen / 100g

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7 thoughts on “The Blueberry Picking in Koigakubo”

  1. I am not a big blueberry fan, but they look great. And the pie especially 😉
    When I was young I used to go strawberry and apple plucking with my grandparents once in a while. Fruit plucking is something nostalgic for me. Your post reminded me that I should try it again! Not only is is cheap and good for you, it is also kind of fun 🙂 And I love farmers, they are always so passionate about there work, friendly and generous.

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  2. I like how it's called “plucking” for you! Back in Michigan, we called it “U-picking (you pick),” whereas in Japan it's called 狩り (kari), which means “hunting.” So many ways to say it!

    And I agree with you, farmers are very passionate about their work! 😀

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  3. What color are the hibiscus flowers? I notice a couple of buds. If it is in a pot remember that it might like some houseplant fertilizer once in a while. In the August heat you probably don’t have to worry about overwatering it… Do I sound like a plant mother?

    Were you happy with the price you paid for the quantity of blueberries that had you pick it? But could there be a price for such a luscious-looking handmade tart with hand-picked blueberries?

    I checked out your poinsettia nursery at Google Maps and noticed that there was a dental clinic a little north of the nursery by the name of Hanamizuki. I wondered if they have a tree like this planted outside. It is a Davidia involucrata, AKA ”handkerchief tree.” With a runny nose like that it will need all of those “handkerchiefs” it can get its branches on.

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  4. It was a white-ish beige color with a bright pink center! It's already produced 7 blooms but you may be right about the fertilizer. I'll give it a try!

    I feel like blueberry picking in Japan includes the “experience” fee so it wasn't too expensive! I would definitely go again.

    I would have thought that a clinic named HANAmizuki would be an otorhinolaryngologist! ;D

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  5. The hibiscus colors make me think of Hawaii for some reason.

    Overwatering is often the biggest cause of potted plant demise. Watering once a week is a good rule of thumb, adjusting for the weather. If you ever feel like your hibiscus needs repotting there are two ways. The first is just to get some potting soil and a larger pot (if it is root bound you might need to take a knife to the root ball, top to bottom, tip toward center, going around the circumference). The second is called root pruning. You can use the same pot it has been in this way. There is a YouTube video here showing a woman root pruning and repotting a hibiscus.. She didn’t mention that it is a good idea to keep the newly re-potted plant in the shade for a few days after the “surgery.” Also people often trim back a little the part of the plant that is above ground because there will soon be fewer roots to support it.

    I was thinking of 鼻水木 when I was attempting my lame pun but an ear, nose, and throat specialist would work too. Oh, here, let me change the kanji 鼻見付き。All this mizuki stuff makes me think of another Mizuki whom I remember seeing around town like this.

    Your blueberry-picking experience sounds a lot like your tart. Just as home made is so much better than store bought, so, too, much better than store bought, is hand-picked-by-your-own-hand-fresh-off-the-mother-bush blueberries.

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