Photo by 123RF

Photo by 123RF ()

In Japan, pineapples grow in only two prefectures: Okinawa and Kagoshima. Though the majority of the pineapples are grown in Okinawa, the sweet and tangy fruit requires acidic soil, well-drained land and high temperatures found in only certain parts of the prefecture.

Conditions for the fruit to thrive exist in the farms up north in Okinawa’s Yambaru region and Ishigaki Island. Higashi Village, which provides the bulk of pineapple production in the prefecture, has roughly 180 farmers growing 10 juicy varieties, according to Ogimi Village’s tourism association.

Okinawans were first introduced to the fruit in the mid-19th century when a plant washed up on Ishigaki island in 1868, probably from a Dutch ship stranded nearby.

Soon pineapple was being farmed on Ishigaki Island and on Okinawa’s main island. Back then, the plants only provided small pineapples. It wasn’t until the Showa Era (1926-1989), according to the Higashi Village website, that Okinawa finally had pineapples as we know them today.

Japan Agricultural Co-operative (JA) notes that the fruit is produced in Okinawa from May through July.

Supermarkets across the island and Japan’s mainland stock up on the delicious fruit during this time.

During the season, you’ll find ways to enjoy the juicy, sweet fruit fresh, canned or in sweets like Ryukyusu cookies and more. Restaurants even serve up Hawaiian pizza, curry rice with pineapple and subuta, a sweet and sour pork dish made with delicious Okinawan pineapple.

You can even visit Okinawa’s Pineapple Park, a theme park dedicated to the fruit. Here, you can see various types of pineapple growing there, and even ride an electric-powered train through the jungle-like park.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy pineapple on the island, so make sure to take advantage of the season to sample Okinawa’s juicy, sweet varieties.

Pineapple Park

Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Last admission 5:30 p.m.)

GPS Coordinates: 26.61650, 127.96958

Entrance Fees: Adult (16 years old and over) 1,200 yen / Child (4-15 years old) 600 yen / Under 4 years old: Free

Pineapple types to try

Smooth Cayenne

This type has a good balance between sweetness, sourness, and juiciness. This is one of the most common pineapples in Okinawa.

Pokotto Pineapple (Snacking pineapple)

With this type, you can tear it open with your hands and eat it like you do with snacks. Its Japanese name came from the sound you would hear when you tear its flesh.

Peach Pineapple

Also known as “Milk Pineapple”, this type has white flesh. You may find it not much different from the other kinds of pineapple in terms of how it looks from the outside. Once you slice it, though, this fruit delicately smells like a peach.

Gold Barrel

This is a rare and precious kind of pineapple, accounting for only one percent of all the pineapples domestically produced. It takes three years before being harvested. The name came from the fact that the fruit has gold flesh and a figure of barrel. Averaging 1.4 kg to 2.8 kg in weight, it weighs twice as much as regular ones.

Jewelry Pineapple

This type is known for its plump flesh and rich sweetness that comes home to your taste buds. Its name came from its rich juiciness and flesh that looks like a gem.

**Information from Orion Beer Co., Ltd.

Gold Barrel and snack pineapple

The best stories from the Pacific, in your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter of articles from Japan, Korea, Guam, and Okinawa with travel tips, restaurant reviews, recipes, community and event news, and more.

Sign Up Now