Skip to main content

Tea Picking in Shizuoka

No blog on Japan would ever be complete without some kind of fruit or tea picking. So, knowing me, and how much I over indulge myself in the host country I took a trip down to the tea capital of Japan where over 50% of all the tea is grown and cultivated in this country, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Of course tea is grown in other areas through-out Japan also, but in Shizuoka, namely Nishi-Ogima in Makinohara City, is where most people go to get a hands on feel for how authentic Japanese tea is grown and cultivated.

In order to start my trip off right I have a beer breakfast FIRST, and then I always grab one of these eki bento boxes( train station lunch box). Kanagawa Prefecture is famous for a few good eki bento. This one in my hand is a saba( horse mackerel), on rice.   

I was on my second Kirin Beer when I realized that in the wee hours of the morning, nothing can top an ice cold beer before a big trip; it’s just good for the blood circulation.  

Most of your urbanites and Tokyoites who travel down to Shizuoka prefer a faster mode of transportation. It’s quite rare for most of them to take a local line 3 hours in one direction. In our case we chose the slow local line leaving from Ofuna Station to Kanaya Station. Though we had to transfer about 3 or 4 times we saved about half on our fare, but it took forever to reach Kanaya Station which wasn’t bad at all actually. 
From our train window we were able to catch some amazing views of Mt. Fuji and of the Giant Gundam that’s now on display in Shizuoka City. I also can’t forget the brief but awesome views of the sea and bridges, especially Kanaya Bridge, near the Kanaya-juku station. The kind of bridge you see on picture postcards of steam trains chugging across a shallow river bed. I have always believed that the train ride is a part of the trip.

Finally arriving at the tea plantation, about a 20 minute taxi ride, there were only a few dozen people there. I was expecting more since it was on a Sunday that we went. Of course, I requested the Jukujo instructor to be our tour guide. As you can see, how she charmed even the shyest of butterflies with the tips of her nimble fingers, so did she to me

(While writing this, I was listening to “Esther” by Kenny G)

These were Sencha tea bushes. Sencha is your common table variety that you find in most sushi shops and restaurants.

Here she’s explaining about how to pick the tea leaves. You can see below in the next picture three leaves near the top of the stem, you pull these ones, not the long fourth one next to the index finger. You have to also be careful about the color. If the leaf is too dark then don’t pull it because it won’t produce delicious tea; something about it being too bitter. The ideal tea leaf is light green and shiny.
We had thirty minutes to fill our baskets. I was the slow one.

This small curled up leaf is not good because it’s been effected by a fungus. Since 1989 the fungus Pestalotia Longiseta has been causing tea gray blight on many tea plantations. Fortunately, this is under control.

If ever you come out this way you’ll see thousands of these plantation fans. Their primary use is during the cold winter months when leaves become vulnerable to ice and frost burn. These fans are supposed to mix hot and cold air to prevent frost from forming on the tea leaves.

The little green house you see at the top of the page is used for cultivating higher grades of tea
These columns are extremely narrow, even for Japanese, but it felt nice walking down them and feeling the tea bushes rubbing against me. Sometimes these bushes can grow as high as 4 meters if left untouched.

It was nice seeing Japanese kids learning about their tea culture and taking part in picking these tea leaves. If my livelihood had to depend on picking tea I’d go hungry; I’m just too slow at picking these little leaves.   I had fun on this trip. Tea picking season is from April to October. The trip was definitely worth it. The next post will introduce the restaurant on this plantation.

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  

Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…