Throughout Japan, the northern island of Hokkaido is known as the rich agricultural island. The agricultural produce is great, and some of the specialities are potatoes, lavender, buckwheat, sugar beets, rice, and pumpkins. As you drive around the island, you see huge fields of the various crops, and we had fun stopping and learning about sugar beets, and buckwheat. It was also a lot of fun to watch some of the rice being harvested last September.
Every autumn, a really nice tradition kicks in: cardboard boxes of fall produce appear in stores, and locals buy them to send to their relatives and friends elsewhere in Japan. The people we know in Hokkaido say that they like to do this, and that their relatives in the southern parts of Japan really look forward to the boxes. Mostly they send the boxes with a company called Black Cat (bit like a UPS equivalent. An interesting name for us, as we usually associate Black Cat with peanut butter!). We see boxes of different sizes, loaded with potatoes, onions, pumpkins and squashes mainly, although sometimes we see also see corn and carrots. People especially talk about the special Hokkaido potatoes—I must say they are delicious, slightly golden and quite creamy.
What a nice harvest tradition!