Family Fun: Tea Picking in Shizuoka

We’ll round out this miniseries on tea with a family friendly activity in Shizuoka. You might remember Kanaya station from the post a few days ago on the Oigawa Railway. A short taxi ride in the other direction from the station brings you to Greenpia Makinohara.

The plains of Makinohara are some of the most prolific tea growing fields in all of Shizuoka. At Greenpia, you too can join in the fun of the tea harvest. Participants don the traditional looking hapi coats of the region’s tea pickers and are given baskets (with straps, so your hands remain free) to carry out with them to the tea fields. Pickers are given a brief introduction before heading out to the bushes; for English speakers, a written translation was provided.

Properly attired to pick tea
Properly attired to pick tea

Out in the fields, the work is more of the fun rather than back-breaking variety. Close up, tea bushes remind me of hedgerows and you have to search carefully for the young leaves. If you choose the wrong ones, you’re the only one who will pay the price. All of your tea is bundled up at the end and given to you as a take-home gift. The average picking time is about 20 minutes so there’s not too much time for younger pickers to get bored.

This was my "haul" of tea
This was my “haul” of tea

Greenpia also boasts a small museum on their property, dedicated to the production of this perennially popular beverage. When I was there, English signage was pretty sparse but the machines might interest younger visitors. I, on the other hand, was more intrigued by Greenpia’s onsite restaurant, where the entire meal was tinged with tea. For less than $18, we feasted on nearly ten separate tea-flavored courses. From battered tea leaf tempura with green tea salt to tea-flavored soba noodles, it was definitely a memorable meal.

A little blurry, but here's what I ate
A little blurry, but here’s what I ate

There’s a bit more English information here, with a link to Greenpia’s Japanese homepage.

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