Seasonal fruit

The fruit in season right now

In Japan, you’re not likely to wander into a grocery store and find the same fruit available all year round. The only exceptions I’ve ever noticed have been bananas and kiwifruits.

Japan’s grocery stores seem to very much be about the seasons when it comes to produce. I think if you do happen to wander into a posh grocery store, maybe you can find blueberries in the winter, and I’ve noticed a recent trend of mikan (kind of like clementines or mandarin oranges) that were grown in greenhouses being available in the spring, but for the most part, you roll with the seasons, too.

That means my window of opportunity for eating nectarines is about four weeks, if I’m lucky. Nashi pears are longer, but the price goes up as time wears on until they disappear entirely from the shelves.

At first, I hated this system. I came from a place where you could buy the same fruit all year round thanks to the sheer vastness of the U.S., and now I was being forced into a system where fruit is not only extremely expensive, it’s only available for certain parts of the year. It felt confining.

However, as time has gone on and I’ve lived here as long as I have, I’ve started to sort of enjoy the limited time. I appreciate the fruit more, definitely, but it also helps depict the changing of the seasons without the need to put up decorations in the grocery store. For example, I know it’s autumn because apples and mikan are in every grocery store, along with persimmons. Without the need for fake fall leaves pinned up on the walls, I know it’s autumn.

I’m having a taste of autumn with these fruits, and I have to say I like it. If only I could find some decent apple cider somewhere, I’d be all set.


My sole squirrel sighting here

I don’t know what it is, but every person from Japan I’ve ever met has reacted to seeing a squirrel the same way most would to a celebrity.

Squirrels are extremely rare in Japan – the only time I ever spotted one in the wild was in an old city called Kamakura. I snapped the photo above mostly because I couldn’t believe how the people around me were reacting. This single squirrel attracted about twenty people to the base of the tree it was in, all with their cellphones pointing upward.

The few times I’ve gone to America with some Japanese friends, they’ve all gone crazy at squirrel sightings. I’m not sure what it is about squirrels that entrances them so much other than the fact they’re so hard to find in Japan.

I personally have memories of my grandfather guarding his birdfeeder from squirrels with a supersoaker in hand. I grew up thinking of squirrels the way many in Japan also think of pigeons – kind of annoying but a source of entertainment every now and then.

Seeing the way my friends have revered the tenacious squirrel, however, has made me see them in a new light. I think the next time I do go to America, I might end up taking too many photos of them, too.