[Activity] Apple Picking in Yamagata! Bagless Fuji apples in Asahi Town!
I moved to Yamagata with my family on the occasion of the U-turn of my husband (coming back to work to Yamagata where he is from). I was fascinated by the people, nature and food in Yamagata, and now I am totally captivated. I will do my best to let many people outside the prefecture know the charms of Yamagata! Also, I am also running a personal blog named Yamagata Kurashi (https://fullpokko.com/) with the theme o Enrich your life in Yamagata. I will continue to share information on Yamagata from various angles in the future.
I have experienced apple picking in Asahi Town, a world-famous apple producing area in Yamagata Prefecture!
Yamagata has a strong image of cherries, but in fact, it is the fourth largest apple producing prefecture in Japan (as of 2019 according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries).
1. Asahi Town and Kosakuringo Garden
① Asahi Town is an apple town
Asahi Town is located right in the center of the mouth when you look at Yamagata prefecture as the profile of a person’s head.
It is no exaggeration to say that “Asahi town stands for apple” and that “apples stand for Asahi Town” just as much as the relation between cherries and Yamagata.
The love for apples can be seen everywhere as the icon on the town homepage is an apple, the shape of the roadside station building is an apple, and there are apples floating in the hot springs (^-^)
② Birthplace of the Bagless Fuji
The history of apple cultivation in Asahi Town is old, and it started in the Wagodaira district more than 130 years ago (1887).
Initially, the struggle continued due to insect damage and illness, but after many years of patience and trial and error, it seems that high-quality apples stated to be cultivated in a stable manner.
Until then, “Bagged Fuji,” Fuji apples cultivated by putting a bag on the fruit was the mainstream, but it is said that “not putting bags on the apples keeps their original appearance and that the shape of the tree is directly related to their taste.” As a result, technical research continued regarding pruning branches and the number of fruit thinning required.
Without a bag, the acidity of the fruit increased and its sugar content almost doubled, resulting in an unprecedented delicious Fuji apple.
They are now more valuable than the bagged variety（^-^）
③ Kosakuringo Orchard
This time, I visited Kosakuringo Orchard, which is the only official apple picking orchard for 2020 in Asahi Town.
* Although other orchards offer apple picking every year, they were closed this year due to COVID-19.
It seems that “Kosaku” (creating happiness) is derived from the name of the owner Jun Sato’s father, but it is also a very nice name suitable for an orchard (^-^)
Kosakuringo Orchard is working on apple cultivation with the four keywords [will, soil, skill, and heart].
The birthplace of the Bagless Fuji, Wagodaira district in Asahi Town is located at an altitude of 270m, and the difference in temperature between morning and evening is large, giving the apples cultivated here a good balance between sweetness and sourness.
Since the soil in the Wagodaira area is hard clay where it is difficult for trees to growth, the trees here have strong roots and grow delicious fruits.
Organic fertilizers and cultivation techniques that match the land and climate are used.
In addition, the apples are not harvested too early but instead made to ripe on the trees.
The growers keep in mind not only the appearance but also the taste of the fruits, taking care that each fruit will be found to be delicious when eaten.
2. Enjoy freshly picked apples with plenty of juice
① Access to Kosakuringo Orchard
Follow National Route 287 in Asahi Town from the south (toward Shirataka) to the north (Sagae), and you will see a sign that says “The birthplace of Bagless Fuji” on your right. Turn right (east).
It’s a little difficult to understand, but it’s the signboard in the middle of the photo above.
Follow the road for a while and you will reach a T-junction, and turn right again.
You will arrive after about 100m.
There is a community center “Wagodaira Ringo Koryu Center” right next to Kosakuringo Orchard, so you can park there (^-^)
First of all, check in at the reception.
fter that you can start picking apples!
There is a straight road with many apples hanging from above.
Children are excited about this scenery!
They ran with great excitement (^-^)
By the way, Kosakuringo Orchard cultivates multiple varieties of apples such as Fuji, Shinano Sweet, and Tsugaru.
The season for each is different, so you can get the most delicious varieties at different time.
I visited this time in early November, and the Shinano Sweet was at its peak.
Actually, it was the first time I saw apple growing up close, there are so many on just one tree!
The owner Mr. Sato said that even so they had picked a good number of apples to make the remaining ones grow as delicious apples.
There are still many apples hanging so it makes me happy.
I was impressed by the words spoken by my children “The apple tree looks heavy ~.”
③ How to pick apples
According to Mr. Sato, the knack for picking apples is to “Twist your wrist to the side instead of pulling it down.”
He then showed me how to do it.
Hold the fruit
Twist to the side!
It looks really easy, but isn’t it really difficult? I had to try…
Hold the fruit…
It was surprisingly easy!
The sound it makes is great (^-^)
④ Recommended for families with children
This time I brought along my preschoollers.
Please see this picture.
A lot of apples were growing even in a fairly low position.
Even without suing stepladders and springboards the children can enjoy searching for their favorite apples themselves (^-^)
Children looking for big, red apples will have eyes shining brightly.
Parents, this is a memorable photo opportunity of a lifetime!
It was also annoying to see them proudly showing off their apples (^-^)
Even the same tree they have different sizes, shapes, and even tastes.
It is also recommended to find the most delicious apples and compare them.
⑤ How to distinguish delicious apples
We asked the owner Mr. Sato how to distinguish delicious apples!
The first point is “redness.”
It was said that the dark red ones have a high sugar content and are sweeter.
The second point is the bottom of the apples.
A sign of ripeness is that the bottom of the apple is yellow instead of green or blue.
It was said that those apples were the most delicious (^-^)
However, the apples in Kosakuringo Orchard were so sweet that I thought that no matter which one I took, I couldn’t be wrong!
Juice overflows when any apple is bitten (≧-≦)
It was spilling so much that I had to suck the juice while eating the apples.
And the peel is delicious too!
My second son who always leaves only the peel started to eat only the peel in the middle of the process… (^^;)
My eldest son, who doesn’t really like apples, ate a whole apple and set out on an adventure to find another one… (laughs)
From that day on, apples are lined up every day at our dining table at the request of my children.
4. Precautions and points for picking apples
① Easy-to-move gear
In the orchard you will have to walk on grass and soil.
Easy-to-move gear including as sneakers or athletic shoes is recommended.
Depending on the weather the day before, rainwater may have accumulated in the grass.
I think it would be perfect if you bring boots or replacement shoes if needed.
② Convenient items
At Kosakuringo Orchard, all the tools for enjoying apple picking were prepared.
・ Tissue paper & wet wipes
・ Rubbing alcohol, etc.
* Kitchen knives and cutting boards are usually also made available but not this year due to COVID-19.
We recommend that you try the apples as they are or that you bring your own fruit knife and cutting board if required.
Basically, you can participate empty-handed, but if you are traveling with small children, I think that you can spend your time more comfortably by bringing picnic sheets.
Children will be covered in apple juice and even mud so it may be useful to have a change of clothes too (^-^)
Since the ground is mainly soil and grass, it seemed difficult to use a stroller.
③ Insect repellent
It was quite chilly because it was early November, but insects were flying around.
There were no blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes, but if you are worried please bring insect repellent spray.
5. Recommended for direct sales, shipping, and souvenirs
There is also an unmanned direct sales counter near the entrance of the orchard.
You can get freshly picked apples from Kosakuringo Orchard at a reasonable price, so please take a look (^-^)
Kosakuringo Orchard also has apples to sell as gifts, but for me this product was a hit!
There is a message in the apple (≧-≦)
It seems that you can put your favorite characters on the apple by covering some of it with a sheet before it gets colored, suppressing the coloring only in these parts.
6. Basic information on Kosakuringo Orchard and apple picking activity
① Basic information
Early June to mid-December
* Please contact Kosakuringo Orchard directly
* Basically open from mid-November to mid-December.
② Apple picking activity
Apple picking at Kosakuringo Orchard where you can enjoy freshly picked apples.
The fees are as follows.
|Activity fees (with three apples to bring back)|
|[Adult] (junior HS students and above)||800 yen (tax included)|
|[Child] (elementary school student)||500 yen (tax included)|
|[Preschooler]||Free (but no apples to bring back|
In addition, you can bring home three apples as a souvenir after the apple picking experience.
First, each apple is quite large.
It’s a little tough to eat three or four on the spot, so I’m grateful for this service (^-^)
We brought back a total of six apples as souvenirs for two adults.
* Multiple varieties are lined up for the picture.
10:00~15:00 (Last 14:00)
Mid-October to late November
* However, it will be closed in early November due to the change of varieties.
* Basically open from mid-November to mid-December.
* Business hours and closed day information may have changed due to COVID-19
For detailed information please contact the orchard directly.
Experience picking up the luxury apple brand "Wagodaira Mutai Fuji" that everyone in the know knows 🍎 @ Asahi Town, Yamagata Prefecture, Kosakuringo Orchard
The 2020 season is over.Apple picking activity
7. Message from the owner, Mr. Sato
In the wilderness of Asahi Town, step into the apple fields and enjoy extraordinary time.
Even if you have most likely already eaten apples, you may not have had the experience of picking apples directly from their tree.
It is an activity that everyone can enjoy!
8. Yamagata's recommended fruit picking activities
[Feature] Luxury cherry-picking in Yamagata! OHSYO Fruits Farm in Tendo City
[Period] Late May ~ Mid July * Including greenhouse cherries
[Feature] Strawberry picking in Yamagata! Strawberry farm in Sagae
[Period] Early April ~ late May
Mid-January ~ late March * Strawberry picking in the snow
[Feature] Grape hunting in Yamagata! Yamagata City's Kono Vineyard offers unlimited time for exquisite grapes! !
[Period] Mid-July ~ late November * Depends on the vineyard