Sunday, February 07, 2016

Strawberry Picking and the longest walk ever....

In hindsight, it was probably good that our day was simply strawberry picking and over a 6 mile walk instead of hiking up a couple of small mountains.  But, holy smokes, we we beat.

It all started innocently enough. The McGrath clan met up with a few other TDY folks and some awesome Japanese friends (not ours...but the old neighbor of one of our TDY guys when he lived here for 4years) and off we went for our strawberry adventure.

We took the Keikyu line to Tsukuihama and then went to the Tsukuihama Tourist Farms. We hopped on the bus and away we went!  

The main office to purchase tickets.  The cost for all you can eat and pick berries is ¥1700 for January and February and then declines a couple hundred yen a month through May, the end of the Strawberry season.  You would normally get your ticket, be assigned a greenhouse and then off you go.  We had a specific greenhouse we were going to, since thenJapanese ladies knew the owner of greenhouse 19.

When I was in Japan in December, it was pretty amazing how the strawberries were everywhere.  I know they are grown in greenhouses at home, but didn't realize what a big deal they are here.  All the fancy patisseries have some sort of strawberry chiffon cake or strawberry tart.  

The whole tourist farm industry is huge here.  There are a slew of MWR tours and many of them include a stop at a strawberry farm for the 30 minute all you can eat bonanza.

We took off all our jackets, got ready to pay our money (sadly, the kiddo was full price...sigh) and eyed up the greenhouse.  Each of the rows had different signs above it, noting the varieties of berries.  Some of the aisles were roped off (one was opened up just as we got there...score to knowing the owner!).  The directions are pretty precise.  Pull and twist from the stem, not on the fruit.  Eat everything except the leaves (and you are critiqued at the end).  Once you leave the greenhouse, no re-entry, Watch where you are walking, etc, etc.  

Gorgeous berries...we had to stare at these buties for a good 10 minutes while we got settled.

And, here we go!  Some of these are just enormous.  I'm pretty sure that all the fruit in these greenhouses is just for the u-pick variety and limited to-go.  There aren't any to go boxes (you would buy prepackaged berries at the front office if you wanted some to go), so what you pick and eat is what you get.  

First bites!  So sweet and juicy.  A white shirt was not a wise choice on my part.

My berries and condensed milk.  In the stores, tubes of condensed milk are sold alongside strawberries.  It all makes sense now.

We all did well for about 15-20 minutes.  Logan was the first one to tap out...and then Joe and I around the same time..sigh.  So good, but there are only so many delicious berries you can eat.

Our one takeaway from the cabbages!  So, I of course grabbed one and started planning to make Hungarian fried cabbage...

If you decide to walk to the farm. You can follow the strawberry flags...but it's a pretty busy road.  

The map of all the farms in the area.  There was so much farmland, it was a little hard to believe we were a short train or bus ride away.  You can see all the different seasons...oranges, sweet potatoes and....something else.  

And then...our insanely long walk started.  We were making our way...somewhere...through all the farmlands in the area.  

It looked like all the crops were harvested by hand.  We saw tons of cabbages being picked and staged in boxes throughout our walk.

Random tori gates...

Daikon radish.  I do have to say that the Japanese ladies had wonderful English.  Much better than our limited Japanese.  And we all had a nice time chit chatting the walk away.  They were explaining the area we were walking through, talking about our families...

The first of the Sakura blooms!

There was a delicious stop at a bakery, Bread Farm, for a mid point refresh and the. We kept on walking...We finally made our way back into..Takeyama, we think.  I loved this little egg stand along the road.  Just all fresh eggs and a few random produce items.  I grabbed a dozen, some carrots...and off we went.

A new vending machine for us...batteries.  These all seemed to be extremely rusty, so I'm not sure if it was still in use.  The Jaoanese ladies seemed surprised we hadn't seen a battery vending machine yet...

We finally (!!) ended up at a Chinese restaurant (no English, so we were at the mercy of the Jaoanese ladies) and had ourselves stuffed silly.  The original order was for three plates of gyoza (two different kinds).  They added pickles, spicy eggplant, Shanghai noodles, fried rice, and some kind of chicken.  Ridiculous. The kiddo slayed (!!!) the gyoza.  That little boy can pack those away like there's no tomorrow.  By the time we rolled ourselves out of there, we hoped there was no more walking.  Luckily, the bus stop was a few minutes away and it took us straight to the JR station in Yokosuka. 

Logan did very well with all the walking.  There was definitely some carrying, but he was a trooper.  We had picked up some sando and onigiri from the 7-11 before we left Yokosuka and barely needed it.  Especially since I seem to be picking spicy sandwiches.  Oh well.

It was an exhausting, long day.  By the time we made it home around 1630, it was a little bit stunning that it all started at 0930 from Liberty Cove.  But, what an experience and adventure.

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