It is hard to resist the offering of a sweet, juicy fruit, no matter what the fruit is. Unless you have an allergy to that food, in which I’m sorry that you have to miss out. But fruits are loved by all who can eat them, and the Japanese are no different.
The most popular fruit in Japan is now the strawberry, although interestingly oranges, especially small mandarins, are the most popular among men and women over 60 years old.
Strawberries, like many fruits in Japan, are very popular and widely available in supermarkets depending on the season. And for some reason strawberries have become the cake toppers of the country, literally.
Vanilla cake in Japan is almost always sold with strawberries decorated on top and sliced to be put in with the filling. You will not see a Christmas cake without strawberries on it.
Strawberry cakes are also some of the most popular birthday cakes and special occasion cakes that you will see as well. Strawberries are undoubtedly delicious, but they are certainly not cheap. The average pack of strawberries costs 400-800 yen, containing 6-10 strawberries. Yes, it’s expensive. There are many cultivators throughout the country and strawberries are ranked on sweetness. You will even see these rankings on some grocery store displays where the strawberries are being sold, right next to the price to justify it. Giftable strawberries that are elegantly packaged and displayed in white boxes can be as cheap at 2000 yen, and get as expensive as 20,000 yen!
Historically, tiny wild strawberries did exist in Japan, and the Dutch strawberry we know today was introduced in 1880, but the plants were mostly decorative and enjoyed by the wealthy. It was not until after World War II when widespread cultivation of these strawberries occurred and made them affordable for the general public. And in a few busy decades, they have become the most popular dessert fruit in Japan today.