Grape Picking on a Hot Summer’s Day

By Michael Gakuran | | Japan | 11 Comments |

Here’s a gentle ‘living in Japan’ post for you all with a splash of language learning and colourful photography. Grape picking in Japan (ぶどう狩り – budou gari) is one of the many fruit-related activities one can do over the summer. And quite a delicious one, too!

I got a phone call from a Yonesaka-san at 9.30am. It had been a long night before, with me getting hooked into watching past Doctor Who episodes (I’ve been catching up!). Yawning and fighting off the lingering effects of a strange dream involving me falling between mountains and trees, I answered my phone.

A barrage of hot, accented Japanese hit my ear with no less force than a traditional wake-up call with a pail of water.

Wuh..? “Gr…grapes..?” I muttered dazily. “A farm..?”

His name didn’t ring any immediate bells, nor did I fully understand what he was asking me to do, but it seemed to involve grape-picking. And perhaps an afternoon lunch? I wasn’t sure, but he had my number and knew my name, so it was a safe bet I’d met him somewhere. I suggested to meet at 1pm and called my friend Dave to get him in on the business too.

“Come on Dave!” I pestered to my grumpy comrade not at all pleased to have been woken up early on a Sunday. “It’ll be an adventure! Not quite knowing what we’re doing or with whom…”

“Fine…fine. Call me again at 12 so I can get ready”.

I could hear his scowl down the phone line.

Roll on 1pm and Mr. Yonesaka comes by in his car to pick me up. Yes, I thought so. I’d met him a couple of times at the city hall and briefly talked about grapes. I’m terrible at remembering names and faces. I usually have to meet someone on 5 separate occasions before I sign their name into my long term memory. Exceptions seem to almost exclusively involve cute members of the opposite sex. Go figure.

Arriving at Mr. Yonesaka’s house and personal grape farm, we were treated to a light lunch of cake before going out to cut some of the gorgeous 巨峰 (kyohou – purple Japanese grapes). The season is almost over, Mr. Yonesaka tells us while entertaining his 2 year old granddaughter Hina-chan (or Hee-chan for short!) He would let us take a couple of boxes of the expensive fruit home for ourselves!

It was hot work and the blasted mosquitoes got me again and again, but ultimately good fun doing a little photography and playing with Hee-chan as we gathered the grapes. It seems Mr. Yonesaka wants to recruit us to help out again next year! If the taste of the chilled kyohou we picked is anything to go by, I certainly won’t be missing out another chance to grab some! Mostly seedless, edible skins and simply divine. A far cry from the fuss and mess of eating normal Japanese grapes!

Also had a nice little experience of 人情 (ninjyou – compassion/kindness) from a little old lady in my apartment block the same day. I had so many grapes that I gave a couple of bunches to my landlord and the lady that was talking to him at the time. A couple of hours later, I have a ring at my door and the same little old lady is standing there looking a little nervous but clutching a big box of laundry detergent and energy drinks.

“You can use these, right?” she offered.

“Yes, yes. Thank you very much” I grinned in reply watching her totter off again.

Ahh, always nice to interact with the neighbours. Hope she enjoyed the grapes!

11 comments on “Grape Picking on a Hot Summer’s Day
  1. syed farhat hussain says:

    really i love the people of japan so calm and cooperative ,decent me always visited osaka for business but i want to pass some time in village life to see the village closely and want to work in form like grape forms.

  2. Jill Sylvan says:

    Grapes, grapes, grapey-grapes! I once helped out a lady who didn’t know how to sort her laundry at a laundromat. She came back later and gave me a bag of tomatoes from her garden. I love Japan.

    • Gakuranman says:

      Yea, the community vibe is great here :).

      • Anonymous says:

        Nice post. That little girl is adorable!

        Call me a grouch, but I’m not a big fan of the whole gift exchange thing here. I’m horrible at remembering to “get people back” for stuff, so I always feel bad when people give me things because they’re probably expecting for me to give them a gift back sometime in the near future. Likewise when I do something for people or give them something, I feel a little uncomfortable knowing they’re probably going to buy me something. If I want to give someone something and then they go out and get something for me, it kind of defeats the purpose of the gift in my mind. It’s not always supposed to be about reciprocity and who owes who!

        • Gakuranman says:

          Definitely. I feel it can be a burden too, which is why I try not to get too wrapped up in things. But you have reminded me – I need to print out some of these pictures in thanks for the great day he gave us :).

  3. those are the most awesome looking grapes i have ever seen. *drools*

  4. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks! I think… ;)

  5. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks for your comment :). My case is a bag I picked up at a Village Vanguard store here in Japan. I just happened to see it one time and grabbed it and have never seen it available since :/. It’s padded slightly on the inside too, which is nice!

  6. discojing says:

    the grapes look absolutely delicious! i went sakuranbo picking one summer in japan and it was one of my favorite life experiences. can i inquire about your camera case? i have a panasonic lumix micro 4/3rds and i think you have the olympus pen (about the same size) and your case looks interesting!

  7. eflask says:

    i love you.

    i just do.

    maybe that’s overreaching for a random stranger, but this is beautiful and i love you.

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