Yamagata Prefecture produces several fruits: grapes, apples, La France pears, and cherries–for which this prefecture is famous. For the length of the season, many fruit orchards open up their gates for people to come in and, for a small fee, allow them to pick and eat as much fruit as they can stomach.
Things I’ll Miss #4: Cherry Picking
The first year I came to Yamagata I was hooked on these little red baubles of heaven, and every summer since, I’ve made sure to go cherry picking at least once. The cherry season here lasts from the beginning of June to the beginning of July, so our visit today let us slip in just before the season came to a close. And a good thing, too, because many of the cherries still on the branches were overripe and beginning to rot. There are bigger orchards that are set up like a theme park where people go to pick cherries and purchase cherry-themed souvenirs, but many family-run orchards also have people in, and their admission fees tend to be less than the larger, more commercial places. It’s impossible for these smaller orchards to collect all the fruit their trees bear themselves, and so in order to make sure as little fruit is wasted as possible (as well as to still make money), they charge from ¥1000 to ¥1500 (~US$10-$15) per person for a one hour all-you-can-pick-and-eat extravaganza. It’s a great deal for both parties, considering how one small pack (think a handful) of cherries can run upwards of ¥500 ($5) in the supermarkets! Even this late in the season, with most of the cherries already picked or rotting off their branches, all four of us were able to eat our fill within our one hour limit. We had to work for it harder than normal, though, climbing up on ladders and really getting into the trees to get to the good stuff. But that’s not all cherry picking has to offer. After all, you eat that many cherries, you’re gonna get a lot of pits. What better way to dispose of the pits than by having a spitting contest? The trick to spitting cherry pits far and away is to curl your tongue and use that as a shoot to rocket it out of you mouth. So we’ve been told. Jeff’s still fine-tuning his technique after all these years. As am I.How far can you spit a cherry pit? Want more? Check out “#3: Purikura” here!