Yamagata Cherries: Yamagata's Pride
There are many places in Japan that are known for their abundance in fruit production.
There's ringo (apple) in Hirosaki, mikan (Mandarin orange) in Wakayama and Ehime, yuzu in Kochi Prefecture, kinkan (Kumquat) in Miyazaki Prefecture, momo (peach) in Yamanashi and Fukushima prefectures, budo (grape) in Yamanashi Prefecture, melon in Yubari, and sakuranbo (cherry) in Yamagata.
Yamagata Prefecture is widely popular for its cherries, accounting for 70% of the country's cherry production.
It was during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) that cherries were first introduced to Japan. A German trader named Richard Gaertner brought the first cherries to the country. While cherry cultivation was tested across the nation for several years, there was not much success in most areas mainly because of the delicate nature of the cherries. But when cherry seedlings were imported from other countries, like America and France, and planted in Yamagata, the Ministry of Home Affairs found out that they thrived in the region because of its climate and natural features. The prefecture has little frost and suffers less from typhoons, making it the perfect place to grow cherries.
Yamagata Prefecture has since then become the top cherry producer in the country. The government and private organizations have helped spread its popularity, bringing millions of tourists in the region every year.
There are many types of cherries grown in the area but the most popular is the Sato Nishiki, which has a long shelf life, aesthetic appeal, and the trifecta of taste. It was first produced by a farmer named Eisuke Sato of Higashine City in Yamagata Prefecture. Sato crossbred Tobaz cherries (good flavor but short shelf life) with Napoleon cherries (sour taste but long shelf life). After 16 years of perfecting the process, the Sato Nishiki was finally born – a fruit with a refreshingly sweet taste that doesn't spoil easily.
Today, you can find a lot of Yamagata cherries in the region, especially in our shop. Buy a few packs for gifts for your loved ones when you get back home.