Peach Tree Roots in Okayama
Peaches are grown and eaten all over the globe, but the ones grown in Japan are known for being especially succulent and soft. The flesh is tender and juicy, each mouthful flooding the taste buds with honey-like sweetness. It’s no wonder that this luscious fruit is as popular with visitors from abroad as it is with Japanese.
The juicy, sweet Japanese peach is said to have begun with Okayama Prefecture’s white peach. Currently there are more than 100 different varieties of peach in Japan, and over half are said to have their origins in the white peaches of Okayama.
Okayama is also known for another type of peach. Peach Boy, or Momotaro in Japanese, (momo means peach; Taro is a common Japanese boy’s name), is a Japanese folktale about a hero born from a peach. Statues and shrines inspired by the tale can be found all over Okayama.
Succulent Fruit from Sunny Okayama
Okayama is known as the “Sunshine Prefecture” because of its mild climate and low rainfall. This climate makes it ideal for growing fruit, which makes the prefecture a big producer of grapes as well. Okayama is the biggest producer of white peach in the whole of Japan. The peaches grown here are more tender and juicy than peaches from other areas.
The peaches are covered with a paper bag when they are small and green. This covering process is a very time-consuming job, but it is also very important. The bags shield the peaches from direct sunlight. This helps to keep the peaches pale in color, and develop the distinctive sweetness. They also protect the peaches from the rain, wind, and insects, too, so that they grow blemish-free. When it is time to harvest, each fruit is carefully cradled and plucked by both hands to prevent bruising. You could say that Okayama white peaches are grown with as much love and care by the farmers, as Peach Boy was by the old man and woman in the tale.
Perfectly Peachy Parfait
There are many cafes in Okayama where you can enjoy fresh fruit parfaits throughout the year. From June to August, when peaches are in season, white peach parfait is the dessert of choice. The parfaits are impressive not only for the delicious taste, but for the imaginative presentation. Peaches are used in shaved ice, smoothies, and lots of other tasty treats as well.
Okayama is also home to the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful blend of Japanese and Western architecture. Taking in the elegant scenery as you stroll through the streets is the best way to work up an appetite for a giant peach parfait!