Picking 17 Kinds of Japanese Strawberries at Dragon Farm (Plus How to Choose the Best and Our Top Picks!)

While many strawberry farms in Japan offer picking experiences, most only focus on one variety. Chiba Prefecture’s Dragon Farm stands out as an exception, cultivating a whopping 17 different species of scrumptious strawberries which has earned them a stellar reputation throughout Japan and even overseas! We ventured to Dragon Farm to try our hand at strawberry picking and to discover which Japanese strawberry is the most delicious.

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Let's Do Some Strawberry Picking at Dragon Farm!

Dragon Farm is located in Chiba Prefecture, just an hour away from central Tokyo. It welcomes visitors with open arms, offering a rest space, free drinks, and delicious food like piping hot roasted sweet potatoes. There’s also plenty to take home, like delicious jams and more.

Of course, above all else, what attracts visitors to Dragon Farm is the hoard of 17 kinds of all-you-can-eat strawberries! There’s so much to enjoy, from classic varieties common in Japanese supermarkets and greengrocers to brand-new, locally developed species. And who can forget the rare white “Tenshi no Ichigo!”

But before visiting, it’s best to do a little reading to maximize your experience, like learning how to find the best strawberries and proper picking techniques. We’ve also outlined the characteristics of each of the 17 strawberries, so you can go in fully prepared!

How to Find the Best Strawberries

While it’s tempting to snatch up as many strawberries as possible, this is a big waste! The secret to finding the best strawberries is to avoid those with white near the head, and opt for those with red reaching right up to the top. If it's a white strawberry, look for red seed-like bumps.

One additional lesser-known mark of deliciousness is a split just below the head, like the picture above, which is the sign of perfectly ripe and very sweet strawberries. As most stores don’t stock them due to their odd shape, they are a rare treat limited to farms!

How to Properly Pick Strawberries

Once you’ve honed in on a strawberry you like, it’s time to pick! For optimal picking, simply pinch the stem with two fingers and swing your wrist forward. Don’t pull violently and don’t press on the fruit itself. Plus, as a rule, refrain from touching strawberries you don’t intend to pick and don’t bring them out of the greenhouse.

How to Eat Strawberries

There are several ways to relish the taste of strawberries. You can simply eat them as is to enjoy the natural flavors, or with a dab of the condensed milk available at the farm for enhanced sweetness. Those wishing to eat it in their own unique way are also free to bring seasonings in.

The 17 Strawberries of Dragon Farm: Breaking Them Down by Size, Color, and Taste

We’ve introduced Dragon Farm, so now let’s take a gander at the strawberries they offer. As stated, Dragon Farm cultivates a whopping 17 strawberry species. However, most visitors are unaware of the differences, which is a colossal waste! Putting it simply, different species equals a vast range of sizes, colors, textures, and tastes. From the sweet and light, to the firm and acidic, and even those with intense, mouth-watering aromas, there’s guaranteed to be a strawberry for you!

1. Kaorino

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet, vibrant aroma

Our leading strawberry is “Kaorino,” one of the most coveted at Dragon Farm. As per the name, which means “fragrance” in Japanese, these strawberries boast a distinctive aroma bolstered by intense sweetness. Being easy to eat, they’re a great choice for children.

2. Benihoppe

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, red, sweet and tart

Benihoppe flaunts a gentle texture and sweet yet slightly tart taste quite unlike any of its counterparts. Particularly well regarded with Japanese women, this is the owner of Dragon Farm’s personal recommendation.

3. Kannahime

■ Characteristics: Medium seeds, red, sweet and slightly tart

While similar to Benihoppe, Kannahime has a firmer texture with additional sweetness. It remains a deep red right up to its core. Its taste is fairly agreeable to all kinds of people.

4. Hoshi no Kirameki

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet and slightly tart

Hoshi no Kirameki has soft, succulent flesh packed with significantly more juice than most other varieties. It has an excellent balance between sweet and sour, with a kick of acidity to boot. Being fairly rare, it’s worth grabbing some if you get the chance!

5. Chi-ba Berry

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, bright red color, sour

As hinted by its name, Chi-ba Berry is a strawberry born in Chiba Prefecture that's known for its bulky body (the one in the photo is not fully ripe, they actually grow a little bigger). Those partial to sour flavors will adore this local variety!

6. Sagahonoka

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet

With a rich sweetness, Sagahonoka is arguably the fruitiest strawberry of the lot. Boosted by a soft body and pleasant aroma, it is often the favorite of children and sweet-tooths.

7. Yotsuboshi

■ Characteristics: Medium seeds, deep red color, sweet and slightly tart

The cute cone-shaped Yotsuboshi has a firm, satisfying bite. While on the sweeter side, it leaves an invigorating sour aftertaste, making it a very unique breed.

8. Tochiotome

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, deep red color, sweet and slightly tart

Born in Tochigi Prefecture, Tochiotome is one of the most popular Japanese strawberries and often the product of choice at supermarkets. It has a strong bite with a sweet, pleasant taste. While many have enjoyed Tochiotome strawberries before, eating them fresh at Dragon Farm is a totally different experience.

9. Akihime

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet

Akihime is another one of the most popular varieties at Dragon Farm. Like Sagahonoka, it is exquisitely soft and sweet, making it a hit with kids.

10. Oi C Berry

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, deep red color, sweet and slightly tart

Packed with vitamin C, Oi C Berry is regarded highly by those who want to keep looking beautiful. It has a somewhat firm bite and satisfying tartness dulled by a hint of sweetness.

11. Mouikko

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, deep red color, sour

“Mouikko” means “one more” in Japanese, which is surely what you’ll be saying after eating this tart, firm strawberry. It is very similar to the Oi C Berry, and is particularly popular with Japanese women.

12. Sachinoka

■ Characteristics: Medium seeds, deep red color, sweet and slightly tart

Sachinoka boasts the perfect blend of deep sweetness and mild acidity, with a pleasant fragrance to boot. The texture is on the firmer side, and it is chock full of vitamin C.

13. Koiminori

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet and slightly tart

This stumpy, cone-shaped strawberry has a strong sweetness with sour hints and a firmer bite than most. The distinctive flavor is a rarity at most strawberry farms, so definitely give it a go!

14. Yayoihime

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet and slightly tart

Yayoihime is one of Japan’s most popular strawberry varieties, and can be easily found at supermarkets throughout the country. It has a solid sweetness and mellow sourness, with a texture that is not too hard nor too soft. They reach peak deliciousness from March, so be sure to hunt some down if you’re in Japan during this time.

15. Tokyo Ohisamaberry

■ Characteristics: Long, large seeds, sweet and slightly tart

The Tokyo Ohisamaberry is most known for its long shape and gorgeous redness, making it a popular choice for jam. It has a faint sweetness and moderately firm bite. Despite the name, it is not all that common in Tokyo supermarkets.

16. Niji Homare

■ Characteristics: Large seeds, orangey color, sweet and slightly tart

Niji Homare strawberries have a reasonably firm texture and reserved sweet and tarty flavor, standing equal to some of the best on the market.

17. Tenshi no Ichigo

■ Characteristics: Medium seeds, white color, sweet

The final strawberry is the mega-rare white Tenshi no Ichigo. We’re certain that most of you have never seen, let alone eaten, this one-of-a-kind strawberry! While the skin remains white regardless of ripeness, the seed-like bumps on the surface turn red once it’s reached its peak, so aim to pick ones that are fully red. The body is perfectly firm, complemented by a bold sweetness and mellow aroma.

tsunagu Japan’s Top 3 Strawberries

After reading about Dragon Farm’s wealth of strawberries, most of you are likely feeling lost as to which you should try. To help you get started, we at tsunagu Japan picked our favorite three on our visit to Dragon Farm.

First up, here are my (the writer's) picks:

1. Benihoppe
2. Tochiotome
3. Tenshi no Ichigo

While they were all delicious, I personally tend to favor sweet strawberries, and these three each boasted their own unique sweetness, with a perfect balance between taste and texture.


Of course, just one opinion isn’t enough, so let’s see what my coworker and fellow editor thought!

1. Akihime
2. Yayoihime
3. Tenshi no Ichigo

My coworker is partial to soft, sweet strawberries, and also enjoyed the unique sweetness of the Tenshi no Ichigo. Indeed, both of us put this white strawberry in our top three, proving just how good it is!

Everyone will undoubtedly have their own favorites, so don’t hesitate to sample some others and make your own ranking!

Pick Your Heart Out at Dragon Farm

The owner of Dragon Farm plans to continue expanding and changing the lineup of strawberries as new, delicious varieties become available. For example, Kannahime will be removed next year, and “Tokun” will take its place, which has an orange hue, soft body, and peach-like aroma.

Being able to discover a new kind of strawberry with every visit is one of the charms of Dragon Farm, so if this article has inspired you to try strawberry picking themselves, you can easily book your spot via phone or online. Add Dragon Farm to your next Japan itinerary and secure your helping of scrumptious Japanese strawberries!

 

Check out our People of Japan article for an in-depth look at Dragon Farm and its owner!

 

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

About the author

eve_elmt
eve_elmt
Hello ~ This is Eve from Thailand ! Now I'm studying in Tokyo and I really love travelling in Japan. Hope you enjoy my articles!

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