For those of you that read my monthly emails will know that the past couple of years, while we were living in England, we went strawberry picking and we loved it. Eden enjoyed running up and down the rows, picking them and of course munching on a few. Matt would get lost in his own wee world and I enjoyed being able to take photos of them having fun!
So when I heard that the season had started for mikan picking here on Okinawa, I was chomping at the bit for our family to get out there and do it.
A mikan is Japanese for orange/clementine and are grown in the Northern part of Okinawa, the picking season runs from October – February in case anyone fancies making a trip to do it for themselves, however, in our opinions, its not as glamorous or as fun as strawberry picking!
Upon arrival the orchard owner/worker handed each of us a bag to fill and then we were left to roam the orchard. The orchard was narrow and set on the side of a hill, we thought we would head straight to the top, my reasoning was surly people just picked the ones near the entrance as they were closer.
I had heard that it hasn’t been the best season for mikans this year, and it showed. The ones that looked nice and ripe had been attacked by something, Matt thinks a bat, of course as soon as he said the word bat I swear I saw heaps of them flying around (Matt’s reckons they were dragon flies but they were HUGE). Within minutes I had been attacked by an army of mosquitoes; I don’t just get a small bite, I end up with huge welts. Eden isn’t really down with nature; things flying around, dirt, bugs, spider webs, so she didn’t mind when we called it quits, not too shortly after our arrival. It seemed the only person enjoying themselves was Clio, who loved being up in the back pack for the first time and trying to grab hold of leaves.
It seems we weren’t the only ones that had had enough. When we hopped back on the bus I think everyone in our group was back on, with the exception of 1-2. Oh, yes, we took a tour guide up there, I had a feeling there was no chance we would find the orchard and after driving up there I was right. Since 90% of our disagreements are caused from driving (the other 10% is the correct way to pronounce words) it was definitely the right decision for the sake of our marriage.
As we drove away I was bummed, this was not the kind of family fun I had envisioned at all; I was covered in bites, Eden was just about in tears because her socks were dirty, Matt wasn’t impressed that we got up early for the sake of a few mikans… Then the tour guide announced we were all done so early that we had time to visit Pineapple Park (another item on our bucket list).
What was even better was that the tour guide managed to talk her sweet talk and score the entire bus free tickets, saving us 1,200 Y (approx. $12!) and then, of course, we entered and spent a lot more than that on pineapple products.
Pineapple Park is purely a tourist trap! You walk around and see rows and rows of pineapples being grown, as well as some other fruit (there is also the option to hire a pineapple cart to drive around, its expensive and not worth it!) the walk doesn’t take long and you finish up in the tasting room. You can try pineapple everything; fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, cake, but the best part was the pineapple wine tasting. Of course you then end up in a huge shop so you can purchase all the yummy products you just tasted. We settled on a small fresh pineapple, red pineapple wine and some pineapple juice (and 1 pineapple cream puff for the road to share).
While the day didn’t go as I had hoped & planned, all was not lost, we checked an extra thing off the ‘Okinawa Bucket List’ (for free), we got a few mikan’s to bring home, and of course we had a relaxing journey home where we all took naps. However, our family are not fans of mikan picking and I don’t think we will attempt it again any time soon.