Just ten minutes from JR Nagano Station via the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, Iiyama is a rural hub known for the quality of its vegetables and fruit – most famously, apples! Each autumn, apple-picking directly from local orchards is one of the best outdoor activities in Nagano and from September 25th until November 30th 2018, you can do so within easy walking or cycling distance from JR Iiyama Station.
As a place of four distinct seasons, the region is blessed with fertile soil nourished by the mineral-rich mountain water and seasonal snow melt, and the ideal climate for growing a variety of apples. Organized by Japan’s longest operating tourism operator, Nippon Travel Agency (NTA), a renowned local farm will soon be open to the public for apple-picking including all-you-can-eat.
The farm is run by Matoko Shiozaki (pictured below) who takes great pride in the quality of his produce – which sells for high prices in cities such as Tokyo and beyond – and looks forward to welcoming visitors to his farm each year to pluck apples directly from the orchards.
You are spoiled for choice with six varieties of apple including Jonathan, Orin, and San Fuji each with their own distinct taste and sweetness. Matoko recommends October as an especially good time to visit with additional varieties – Akibae, Shinano Sweet, and Shinano Gold – fondly referred to as the “Three Apple Brothers”, ripe on the trees and ready for picking. Take the time to speak to Makoto and other staff and they’ll proudly explain that the sweetness of their apples results from Iiyama’s higher elevation and the temperature difference between day and night which naturally increases sugars within the fruit.
International visitors to Japan are often amazed by the size and notable flavors of locally-grown fruit. Though advantaged by a climate ideal for growing apples and other fruit, it is the dedication and expertise of Nagano farmers that matters most. Explore a little and you’ll learn that the farm practice of not eradicating undergrowth from orchards promotes more biological activity and richer, more fertile soils; which in turn nourishes such large, delicious apples to maturity each autumn. Makoto invites you to visit for yourself and enjoy the best that his farm has to offer!
English-speaking guides will be at the farm throughout autumn to assist your understanding and enjoyment. Upon arrival they will greet you and explain how to go about apple-picking in the orchards. They will be happy to accompany (should you wish them to do so) during your visit and are always keen to further your understanding of the farm, region, and local food culture.
Whether you are in the region for an extended stay or have limited time and looking for a relaxing but indulgent activity for a morning or afternoon, apple-picking at one of the region’s best farms will give you a taste of rural Japan that will stay with you long after you move on.
Autumn apple-picking includes the assistance of English-speaking guides, unlimited time picking directly from the orchards and all-you-can eat while at the farm for JPY1200 per person or JPY1500 per person if you’d like to take 3 apples with you (in addition to all-you-can-eat while at the farm). Children aged 0 to 3 years of age are free of charge. The first 100 visitors between September 25th and October 4th will be admitted free of charge.
Hours of operation
The farm is open to the public every day of the week from September 25th to November 30th 2018, between the hours of 10:00 to 16:00, and contactable by phone on +81-(0)70-3352-0540.
From JR Iiyama Station:
Shiozaki Farm is located within easy walking distance – approximately 7 to 10 minutes – from the station. Exit the station via the Chikumagawa/Main Exit and turn left, following the path past the bus stands, and between the train line (to your left) and the backside of Tsuruya supermarket and carpark (to your right). Follow this path and turn left at the road, cross the train line, and continue to walk straight. You will come to another intersection which you will cross and start walking up hill. As you move uphill you will pass under the Shinkansen overpass. Not long afterwards you will see the farm sales building on your left, with the orchards on the other side of the road (on your right).
From JR Nagano Station:
You will need to head to JR Iiyama Station via either the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – 11 minutes – or the local JR Iiyama Line – approximately 45 minutes. Both lines are covered by the JR Rail Pass or cost JPY1360 (adult one way) for the shinkansen and JPY530 (adult one way) on the local line. While the shinkansen is definitely the faster and easier of the two, the local line is particularly beautiful between Kami-Imai and Iiyama Stations – a very enjoyable and relaxing way to make your way to Iiyama from Nagano.
From the Snow Monkey Park:
There are two options to come to JR Iiyama Station from the park – by local bus to JR Iiyama Station or via JR Nagano Station. The most direct way to the farm from the park is by local bus however through autumn there is only one bus per day departing at 15:11 and arriving at 15:56 – JPY1000 (adult one way), which unfortunately won’t get you to the farm in time for apple-picking on the same day.
We therefore recommend returning to JR Nagano Station, which can be done using either the Nagaden Express Bus from nearby the monkey park JPY1400 (adult one way) or by train from JR Yudanaka Station – limited express/JPY1260 (adult one way) or local train/JPY1160 (adult one way). Once at Nagano Station simply follow the directions above to Iiyama and Shiozaki Farm.