Culture · Food · Friends · Hamamatsu

Orange Picking in Hamamatsu

The newest farmhand recruit.

Back in Autumn 2019, one of my favourite teachers at my elementary school Shirai-sensei gave everyone a local mikan orange. It was easily the best orange I’ve ever eaten, and when I told her so she delightedly explained they’re actually from her father’s orange grove.
(A term I only learned while writing this blog as I assumed oranges grew in an orchard – apparently not!)

A week later, she beckoned me over to her car after school, gave me a bag and told me I could take as many home as I could fit inside my backpack. While harvesting season was already over, she promised me the following year she would take me to see the oranges and pick some for myself.

And true to her word in October 2020 she drove me and my friend Haruna to see the trees, help harvesting them and bring some home for ourselves. The farm was originally her grandfather’s and her father took over five years ago, working with her mother and a few picking staff.

I also got to catch up with another of my favourite teachers who moved on to another school in March 2020 – she brought her husband and little daughter who was so cute. Her daughter definitely managed to pick more oranges than me!

I’ve only been raspberry picking in the UK, and strawberry picking last year. There’s something so wholesome about picking fruit straight from the tree or bush.
The grove grows two types of oranges – the smaller mikan is very sweet with no sourness at all, they remind me of the clementines my mam buys at Christmas. The larger, darker oranges are tart, but not at all bitter.

Although I live in the city, (I’m a bona fide city girl who has a mental breakdown if I’m too far from wifi or a soy flat white…) it was lovely to be out in the Japanese inaka for the day, living my best Ghibli-esque life.

I would have been grateful for even a small handful, but she very kindly gave us a huge box each to fill and we could take home as many as we could carry. We were also able eat as many as we could while we were harvesting!
(I taught everyone the term “eating on the job.”)

It was such a wonderful experience I would have otherwise missed if it wasn’t for the kindness of people I’ve met here.
Another precious memory I’ll treasure forever.

Not bad for an afternoon’s work!

We also noticed a tiny, quaint train station nearby so looked inside. There was a cute little gift shop and cafe inside ran by a sweet guy who spoke really good English.
It had a surprisingly hipsterish vibe and sold local crafts, beers and cookies.

Shirai-sensei told me a ticket inspector stands in the middle and manually checks tickets – even though it’s so quiet. Never change, Japan.
So cute! The art is by the Finnish brand Marimekko and is really popular in Japan right now.

Although we’d more than filled up on oranges, Shirai-sensei took us to a popular Italian restaurant and I had the best pizza and pasta I’ve eaten so far in Japan! (I’m half-Italian so hard to please!)

Shirai-sensei also wouldn’t hear of us paying, and told us it was her present for us. She is so kind!

Naples-style pizza.

And if I hadn’t been treated enough, Shirai-sensei gave me and Haruna presents from her recent trip to Kamakura. She picked out the pink earrings for me knowing it’s my favourite colour – they’re made from special sakura shells that are only found on Yuigahama Beach.

It was such a special, surprise gift and they’re absolutely perfect!

It was the sweetest day ever. It can be easy for me to feel disconnected to Japan when a lot of my trips have been cancelled over the past year due to the ‘rona.

But getting to do wholesome stuff like this reminds me of why I moved to this beautiful country in the first place. I hope we can all make more memories in 2021!

~ Carla

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s