苺 or イチゴ or いちご ichigo: strawberry
狩り kari: literal translation is “hunting,” but it used for picking fruit
so ichigo-gari イチゴ狩り is strawberry picking.
Strawberry picking is really popular in Japan.
Today we went to Chura Ichigo 美らイチゴ, a strawberry farm in Itoman. Here, you pick your own strawberries in their covered greenhouse. They just opened this year and they grow 5 different varieties of strawberries.
When you enter, you take off your shoes and put them in the cubby, then wear the rubber slippers provided for you. Next you will be handed a basket with a tray in it. You are instructed in the method of how to pluck the strawberries, by turning the tops downwards and pulling gently (look at the picture signs they have for you to understand what I mean).
What I like about this place is that there is no entrance fee (!) and you simply pay for as many as you pick (2yen per 1 gram). We enjoyed some time choosing from the different varieties of berries and ended up with about 950yen worth of strawberries. These berries were so sweet and delicious, it was such a good value. If you want, they also have some benches you can sit at and enjoy eating your berries after you have paid for them, or you can get a bag to carry them home in if you prefer. I highly recommend trying Chura Ichigo!
Some other places, such as some farms in Ginoza (up north) and Tomoyu Farm in Nakagusuku, have only a tabehoudai 食べ放題 (all-you-can-eat) plan where you pay a certain amount (usually 1300yen for adults) and you can eat as many strawberries as you want in 20 minutes. For me, I prefer to savor my berries since they are a rare treat; I don’t want to scarf them down in a certain amount of time. So while I appreciate the novelty of the tabehoudai idea, it is not how I wish to enjoy my strawberries.
Chura Ichigo Itoman branch is only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, from about January until May, starting from 10am until they are out of berries for the day. Most strawberry picking places in Okinawa begin their season around January/February and close by May.
**UPDATE: Chura Ichigo has opened a second location in NANJO. This location is open on Sundays and Thursdays, starting at 10 am until they are out of berries. These 2 locations have become so popular it is important to check the website for the day to see if they have sold out or go at opening! The website is even in English now since many foreign people enjoy visiting! The fees have changed; there is now an entrance fee and berries are 3yen per gram. They have also added a tabehoudai plan 食べ放題 for those interested.
Itoman address: https://goo.gl/maps/hsScgeBHF6J2
Nanjo address: https://goo.gl/maps/AisPknp6tM82