I hate reading things from people on the Internet who say you can’t find fruit in Japan… This isn’t true. While it’s not a tropical fruit paradise like some of Southeast Asia, and fruits aren’t as cheap as in America, they are out there and there are plenty of them.
To be fair, one of my least favorite parts about living in Japan is how expensive import fruits are. Yesterday, I bought a handful of cherries for 400 yen, but I was desperate! But a lot of people hear about thousand dollar watermelons, and get the idea that Japanese fruits are unobtainable. That’s not true. Fruits, especially local fruits, are very cheap and readily available almost anywhere.
The first thing you have to understand is that Japan is an island, so much of the high cost of fruits is due to how much it costs to import them. The easiest way to avoid paying a lot for fruits is to buy Japanese fruits. There are so many that you probably have never heard of before, but should definitely try!
Another way to avoid paying a lot for fruits is to look for the ugly ones. Avoid any fruits that are individually wrapped (I’ve seen saran-wrapped bananas, which I personally find ridiculous), and look for the bigger bags. Also check out discount stores, like Gyomu Super, which sell slightly older and uglier fruits. They taste the same, though, so I don’t mind!
The second thing is that Japan has four distinct seasons, and operates as such. Your best bet is to buy fruits that are in season. Hate to break it to you, but you’re going to have a hard time finding watermelons in winter. And if you find one, it’ll be marked up beyond belief.
Here are some Japanese fruits you can buy by the season:
- Japanese Plum (“Ume”)
- Kiwi (“Kiwi”)
- Japanese Loquat (“Biwa”)
- Apricot (“Anzu”)
- Peaches (“Momo”)
- Melon (“Meron”)
- Japanese Plum (“Sumomo”)
- Figs (“Ichijiku”)
- Mango (“Mango”)
- Watermelon (“Suika”)
- Cherry (“Sakuranbo”)
- Citrus Hybrid (“Amanatsu/Natsu-mikan”)
- Pineapple (“Pain”)
- Japanese Pear (“Nashi”)
- Grapes (“Budou”)
- Kumquat (“Kinkan”)
- Japanese Lemon (“Yuzu”)
- Apples (“Ringo”)
- Satsuma/Mandarin Orange (“Mikan”) – until late winter
- Persimmon (“Kaki”)
- Strawberries (“Ichigo”) – found until early summer
- Grocery stores (seriously, any grocery store’s produce section will have fruits. These are usually located on basement/ground floors)
- Convenience stores (they usually have a limited selection, but you can always find bananas and packaged pineapple or fruit cocktail mixes
- Orchards (pick-your-own fruit counts, right?)
- On the side of the road (this may be more difficult in cities like Tokyo, but a lot of rural communities have local farmers/fruit sellers littered throughout the area)