Apple is an icon of Aomori prefecture. If Furano is famous for its lavender fields then Aomori certainly is for its apple orchards. Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on the mainland of Japan produces more than half of the total apple production in entire Japan. It produces approximately 50 million tons of apples per year.
It is unbelievable that one single prefecture of Japan produces such a huge volume of apples. How impressive is that! There is no magic behind this scene but one thing that makes Aomori to be so is the passion for growing it naturally. Aomori’s apple harvest begins in June but majority of apples are harvested from July to November.
Apples of Aomori are to die for! Do you know why? Because they are awfully sweet, bigger, have crispy texture, juicy, sweeter fragrance, much rounder, and have eye-catching light reddish color. Everything from the appearance to taste makes it perfect to be the best fruit in the Tohoku region.
A trip to Aomori will not complete without eating an apple. It is true! To be honest, it sounds pretty awkward leaving it alone and enjoying the other sightseeing attractions across Aomori prefecture. I would share some of the best private apple farms later in this article. I wish you should visit one of those.
The History of Apple Cultivation in Aomori
The journey of apple cultivation in Aomori prefecture had begun in the spring season of 1875. The three apple saplings were sent to Aomori Prefectural Office from the Home Ministry of the Department of Industry Promotion. Those apple saplings then were planted on the grounds of the Aomori Prefectural Office. Thus how the apple cultivation had started its journey in Aomori prefecture.
In 1931, the first ever Japanese Apple Research Institute was established in Kuroishi City, Aomori. The institute then kept researching on developing apple cultivation. If you visit the Prefectural Office now you could see seven varieties of apple trees standing in the front yard that were planted after 1963. Please note that, apple trees could live at least 100 years. That’s their average life expectancy.
In 1975, local people there celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Apple cultivation by erecting a memorial plaque. It was constructed at the same spot where the first apple trees were planted. Apple cultivation is one of the leading industries in Aomori after the rice cultivation. You have got to come to Aomori in order to eat fresh Fuji and Mutsu varieties of apple. These could be stored for a long period of time, especially the Fuji Apple.
Aomori apples have not just satisfied our mind and stomachs in Japan but it is now exported to many Asian countries. The popularity of Aomori apple has reached its ultimate success. Apple farms that spread throughout Aomori prefecture produce high quality apples which can be eaten fresh after picking them off the trees. You even don’t need to buy them from store. Just head toward the apple farms you find nearby and have an unforgettable experience.
When Does Aomori’s Apple Picking Season Begin?
Aomori’s apple picking season begins from early-July to mid-November. Though, the best time for picking apple in Aomori is in August. Here, most of the private fruit picking farms let their visitors pick apples in July. Please bear in mind that, each and every apple in Aomori is grown with proper care and a lot of dedication.
Apple picking season depends on the apple’s growth. You cannot expect picking apples at any time of year. It is because there is a certain apple harvesting time. For example, Hirosaki Apple Park lets visitors picking its apples only during the months from August to mid November. If you want to get this experience, please get there either in early august or before mid November.
Types of Apple in Aomori
There are six types of Apples that are grown in Aomori. All of these types of apples have their own characteristics, tastes, colors and shapes. Let’s explore them all.
One of the main characteristics of this apple variety is the size. The name “Sekai Ichi” means World’s Number One. It is the biggest apple variety you would ever find in the land of the rising sun. This apple could be about 500-1000g in size!
It indicates that this is not only the biggest apple variety in Japan but also in the world. The skin has a darker red and yellow background with red stripes. It has a sweet fragrance as the fruit itself is very sweet and juicy at the same time. The texture of this apple is firm (crisp) but with a very little tartness. Eating fresh Sekai Ichi apple is the best than cooking or baking it.
This is extremely intensely sweet apple which has plentiful juice. In 1930, it was first originated to Aomori since then it has been dominating its popularity across Japan. It is one of my favorite apples of all time. It is crisp with slightly tart, juicy and have an excellent sweeter flavor.
It has a pleasing pink color skin which makes this apple quite excellent to look at. It is possible to buy a 500-600g of Mutsu apple. Try to eat it fresh and consume all the vitamins A and C as a result you get a healthy life.
It is one of the apple varieties that Japan could be proud of. Fuji is not an ordinary apple variety. I won’t be an idiot telling it as the icon of all other Aomori apple varieties. It has a good balance between sweetness and tartness. I have had this apple many times in my entire life so far.
Every bite was pretty enjoying and delicious. It grows about 300-500g in size and the skin is beautifully decorated with scarlet strips. To be honest, it is my favorite apple variety that I like most.
Fuji apple is inexpensive to buy than the Sekai-Ichi apple. Please note that it was first developed in 1962 by Tohoku research station, Japan.
Does it look like the planet Venus? In fact the word “Kinsei” means the planet Venus. Maybe it was named after Venus because of the color and the shape. History says, it was first originated in Aomori prefecture then it spread throughout Tohoku region.
The skin is yellowish-white and it never turns to red. One Kinsei apple could be about 300-400g in size. It is not a biggest apple variety of Aomori but it dominates its popularity with other varieties with the sweet flavor, plentiful juice and sweet taste. Every apple variety is sweet in Japan so is the Kinsei apple!
You can hardly fine tasteless apple variety in Aomori. Jonagold is a tasty apple comes in yellowish background with red stripes skin and pretty much rounder. It is about 300g in size that has a very little tart but very juicy. Taking a bite out of a Jonagold apple is super!
I like the balance of sweetness of this apple which helpful for controlling weight and regulate blood sugar. Please note that, this is one of the best desert apples you could ever find on earth.
This is not a round shape apple variety but it looks very oblong. It skin comes in yellowish-green color. Nowadays Ohrin is seen to be the third most grown apple in Japan. Low tartness and high sweetness makes it perfect to be eaten fresh. It is the smallest variety apples than those of the varieties explained above.
A single Ohrin apple size could vary from 250 to 300g. Eating two or three Ohrin apples per day helps to reduce the risk of developing variety of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Aomori’s Apples Are the Best in Japan Because…..
The weather of Aomori is quite suitable to grow tons of fresh apples. Apart from that there are some things that play important role producing a huge volume of apples each year. For example – the soil, as you know only fertile soil with proper weather condition is able to grow quality apples, while rest is the significant commitment of time and work! Having only proper weather condition does not mean it could grow everything we want, rather we have to depend on the soil.
Not every apple grows everywhere. Maybe the types of Apples that usually grow in Aomori could not be grown in Furano. Growing quality apple requires a year-long operation. The entire productivity fully depends on this. Even though Aomori apples farmers are dedicative they need to use right agricultural chemicals to remove insects.
I have visited many apple farms across Aomori and experienced that the farmers I met there were very hard-working. I have seen farmers there were covering each and every apple with bag. This is not a crazy thing to them.
I asked one of the farmers why they were wrapping the apples with bags and he answered me this “We want to grow big apples which are tasty and nutritious. We don’t want to produce an apple which is damaged by the insects and that’s why right now I am covering the apples with the bags.” This comment from the man was surprising! He also told the amount of the water they pour under the apple trees and so on.
In order to grow good quality apples there is no way except the sunlight. This is the primary thing to think of and that’s why farmer there prune correctly at the right time so that all parts of the tree get proper sunlight. On the other hand, they have to cut the grasses before they grow too long. Farmers of Aomori are also concerned about the nutrition of the fruit. As a result they remove the useless and unhealthy fruits from the trees and let the healthy ones grow carefully.
It is said that Aomori has the largest apple farming land about 21,400 hectares as of 2012. It has got a great reputation being the leader of the highest apple production region in Japan. You can get Aomori’s apples everywhere in Japan. After fulfilling the domestic demand most of the apples that grow in Aomori are exported to different regions of the world, mostly in Asia.
The World’s Heaviest Apple
According to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest apple (weighted 1.849 kg) was grown and picked by Chisato Iwasaki at his apple farm in Hirosaki city, Aomori Prefecture, on October 24, 2005. The apple that was grown was not a Sekai Ichi apple but Hokuto apple.
It was kind of a new hybrid apple of the Fuji and Matsu breeds. It was a great achievement which I believe every farmer of Aomori was happy to know that. Who knows, maybe someday someone from Aomori would grow an apple that would break the current world record. Let’s all hope that if you are one of the fans of Aomori Apples.
Best Apple Picking Farms to Visit in Aomori
All of these fruit farms produces variety of fruits including apple, cherry, grapes, and peaches. Therefore, their harvest time varies time to time.
1. Aomori Kanko Ringo-en
Address: 35 Aza-osawa, Tamogino, Aomori-shi, Aomori 030-0124
Hours: August – mid November
2. Hirosaki Apple Park
Address: 125 Aza-terasawa, Oaza-shimizu-tomita, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8262
Hours: August – mid November
3. Aomori Ringo-no-Sato
Address: 1-6 Abeno, Tamogino, Aomori-shi, Aomori 030-0124
Hours: August – mid November
4. Mt. Iwaki Knako Ringo-en
Address: 120-3 Aza-terasawa, Hyakuzawa, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-1343
Hours: End of June – mid November
5. Michinoeki “Namioka” Apple Hill Knako Ringo-en
Address: 2-3 Aza-nojiri, Oaza-Megasawa, Namioka, Aomori-shi, Aomori 038-1331
Hours: Mid September – early November
Address: 426 Aza-hibiki, Totsurazawa, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-1202
Hours: April – October
7. Tsugaru Yumeringo Farm
Address: 44-4 Aza-yamazaki, Kozawa, Hirosaki-shi, Aomroi 036-8243
Hours: Onpe Year Round
8. Kuroishi Knakou Ringo-en
Address: Takinoguchi, Oaza-asaseishi, Kuroishi-shi, Aomori 036-0343
Hours: Early September – Early November
9. Itayanagi-machi Furusato Center
Address: 239-3 Aza-doi, Oaza-itayanagi, Itayanagi-machi, Aomori 038-3692
Hours: Early September – Mid Novmeber
10. Tsuruta Town
Address: 200-1 Aza-hayase, Oaza-tsuruta, Tsuruta-machi, Aomori 038-3595
Hirosaki Apple Park
Hirosaki Apple Park is located in Hirosaki city, Tsugaru District, Aomori prefecture. Tsugaru region is the only region that abounds with paddy fields and apple orchards. Hirosaki is the top apple producing city in Japan. It is a pleasant apple park that everyone would like to spend few hours picking fresh apples off the trees. When I got there I saw the park was surrounded by beautiful green nature. It was pleasant welcoming scenery but as I walked down the park I was getting into a world full of apple trees.
It is said that the park has over 1,300 apples trees of 65 different varieties. If your intention is to pick fresh apple in Aomori then this is going to be the best apple farm to start with. If you expect more than just picking apples, buying apple theme gifts, having fresh apple and foods made of apples then I guess you won’t find this place as an interesting one to explore.
I made my first ever trip to this park in early August which allowed me to pick some apples off the trees and yes I have had fresh apples there as well! Though, at that time not every apple variety was ready to pick. It was great to see that most of the trees were laden with apples. I was pretty lucky that I was able to picked more than 50 apples from different trees around the park. Surly I was not exhausted rather I did what I wanted before get to the park. Anyway it is worth a visit!
There is a restaurants and gift shop from where you could eat as many as apple foods you want to satisfy your stomach. You can try to eat dishes like apple pie, curry,
apple jam, juice, apple flavored ice cream, and other dishes. While on the other hand, if you want to buy some gifts for others then buy apple theme gifts from the gift shop. From the JR Hirosaki Station it takes only a-20 minute bus ride and a-8 minute walk to reach to the apple park. You can drive a rental to this park which is pretty reliable to me.
Address: 125 Terasawa, Shimizutomita, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8262
Is Aomori only Famous for Apple?
In spring apple blossoms appear and in autumn fresh apples are picked as part of harvest. Four distinct seasons of Aomori creates an outstanding atmosphere to be loved by us. Aomori is said to be blessed with natural beauty and bountiful natural resources.
It is the foremost agricultural prefecture in Japan. Fruits like apple, pears, and grapes are cultivated along with different vegetables and rice. In fact, Aomori is famous for producing high quality nagaimo as well. It is a type of Japanese Yam containing high level of Vitamins C and B1. There are variety nagaimo recipes which truly are delicious to have.
Festival like Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival, Lake Towada Winter Story and Hachinohe Emburi are spectacular to experience. All these festivals dominate their popularity at different season of the year. Therefore, Apple is not just a thing to be famous rather there are something which could overwhelm you.
I truly love Aomori’s nature because it is too diverse. If I have to buy some apples from the store I first search for Aomori’s apples. They are very sweet and have got everything else to make you happy when you take a bite out of an apple.
Before leaving some of the apple farms in Aomori, make sure that you have some apple pie and apple flavored soft serve ice cream. Except these you would encounter other types of apple products and foods in Hirosaki city. To be honest with you, I like everything else made of apple.
Visiting Aomori in autumn would be charming since it is the best time for picking beautiful apples from the farms. I hope you and your all family members would have a great time to visit one of the
apple farms located in Aomori. You can experience how the farmers grow every apple carefully till it is picked.
Before visiting an apple farm please make a call to the phone numbers I have given you here. Hopefully, you are going to have an unforgettable apple picking experience in the land of Aomori.