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Autumn Appetite


An autumn scene in the ricefields. (Kyodo)

When the hot, languid summer passes, and the air turns invigoratingly brisk - getting downright chilly at night - one's appetite returns with a vengeance. As if anticipating this, shops around town begin featuring seasonal delicacies that further whet one's taste for good food.

Summertime fruits like watermelons disappear from the grocer's displays and are replaced by grapes and pears. These, too, soon give way to apples, persimmons, and tangerines.

Greengrocers often run short of green vegetables around this time, but they have plenty of seasonal vegetables like eggplants, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, taroroots, and Japanese radishes. These tasty vegetables rejuvenate the body and spirit after a long, enervating summer. Some vegetables can now be bought year round thanks to advances in farming techniques and transportation technology, but there's no substitute for the freshness and mouth-watering wholesomeness of vegetables in season.

Fish shops also begin to feature fall products, like saury, mackerel, and sardine. They have just the right amount of fat on them and are really delicious.

For rice farmers, autumn is when they harvest the year's crop. Six months after being planted, rice plants whose ears have turned golden brown are ready to be reaped. In the Hokuriku district, harvests take place in mid-September, while in warmer Kyushu, harvests reach a peak much later, around late October.