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Great Escapes Peach Hunting
(Entered Jul. 31, 2006)
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Is there any better way to spend a summer day than to pick and eat fruit in an orchard? Well maybe there is, but that's what was on our schedule for this particular weekend. Like I've mentioned before, fruit is hella expensive in Japan and this month's in season fruit, peaches, are no exception. Most of you have probably noticed peaches being sold for unreasonable prices, perhaps 500 yen for one peach is not an uncommon sight. If you're extravagant enough to have shelled out for one of them you'll probably have been amazed at it's perfection (no competition for a mango though). So where does all this high-priced fruit come from? Well certainly not Tokyo. The orchard we went to was somewhere in the countryside of Yamanashi, about 2-3 hours away by express train, then a 30 minute bus ride, topped off by a 20 minute walk on foot. In other words, be prepared to spend half the day getting there and back. The orchard's name is Nakagomi and the deal is, once you pay the entrance fee, you're free to walk around picking and eating peaches at will for as long as you want. They even provide you with knives and trays to make the job easier.

peach hunting

You might be wondering, if peaches are so expensive, then what must it cost to enter this place? Well it ain't cheap let me tell ya, but neither is it as bad as you might think. The cost is 3000 yen, but before you gasp in shock, let me explain what you get. First of all, as I said above, it's all you can eat and Kumi and I managed to put away 9 peaches and 4 plums before we couldn't bear the sight of any more fruit. Not only that, but the cost also includes a box of 5 choice peaches to take home with you, and while you're not supposed to sneak extra peaches into your bag, security is pretty lax and I took out 2 more nice peaches with none being the wiser. So let's see, total cost for two people is 6000 yen, divide that by 25 pieces of fruit and you end up with the figure of 240 yen/peach, hmmm, actually still not a great deal but hey, the experience is worth something too!

peach hunting

Above you can see Kumi busy cutting up our second peach of the day, and below is me offering a small prayer to the peach gods for their bounty. Eating the peaches definitely required knives. When I plucked the first peach, I naturally tried to take a big bite out of it, and was rewarded with a mouthful of peach fuzz. Now I'm not one who has any problem with fruit allergies but this peach hair more resembled quills on a porcupine than any fuzz I've ever encountered. Later on my lips were itchy and as well, both Kumi and I had rashes on our wrists where the fuzz had touched us. Hands were fine but itchy wrists, don't ask me why.

peach hunting

Some of those peaches were as big as melons! Ok well small melons. We soon learned that the ripest peaches were at the end of the branches, size had nothing to do with it. Some peaches were still hard as rocks while others lay rotting on the ground. When we asked why the peaches were left on the ground in this state the answer was: they're used to make jam. I'll remember that the next time I buy peach jam.

peach hunting

Speaking of rotting, where does all the peach refuse go after you're done eating? Just pile it up over here on the ground please. Skins, pits and unwanted peaches galore! I instantly dubbed the area as bug heaven and sure enough every insect not in Tokyo was here. This pile surely isn't intended for the jam collection...or is it?

peach hunting

Well it was a good day, we even went to a local onsen after to relax. Only one problem marred an otherwise good outing, transportation! Not only did we spend a lot of time on buses and trains, we had to wait for them to come too, and in the countryside, buses come once every 2 or 3 hours. The whole experience was a strong argument for getting my Japanese driver's licence. Next time we'll rent a car.



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