Tochigi Prefecture is Japan’s number one producer of strawberries, both in terms of output and sales. Known as a “Strawberry Kingdom,” the region has applied assiduous research and advanced cultivation techniques to consistently develop leading strawberry brands.
The first strawberries in Japan can be traced back to strains bred in the Netherlands about 200 years ago. In the late Edo Period (1603-1868), strawberries were brought to the only Japanese port that was permitted to trade with the Netherlands, Nagasaki. Although small-scale strawberry cultivation began in Tochigi as early as the Taisho Period (1912-1926), it was between 1945 and 1955 that strawberry production truly took hold throughout the prefecture. This led to research on developing new breeds and methods for extending the harvesting season beyond the standard May-June window.
In 1985, the Nyoho strawberry breed was developed, taking the market by storm. Coupled with cultivation methods that allowed the harvesting season to be extended to meet the end-of-year demand rush in December, Tochigi quickly became Japan’s top strawberry producer.
In 1994, developed as a successor to the Nyoho, the Tochiotome strawberry inherited its predecessor’s clean shape and beautiful color while bearing bigger, sweeter and more tender fruit. A hit throughout Japan, today the Tochiotome accounts for over 90 percent of all strawberries produced in Tochigi.
Building on these successes, in 2011, the Skyberry breed was introduced. Graced with a shining red hue, these strawberries are extremely large, with two-thirds weighing in at more than 25g. The fruit of 17 years of research, the Skyberry has a marvelous flavor, with a juicy and mellow texture melded with an uncompromising combination of sugar and sourness.
Produced in a rich climate, Tochigi’s top-quality strawberries might just get you to change your image of strawberries – for the better!