Tomato Land Iwaki

High-tech farming with hand-picked tomatoes

By Justin Velgus    - 4 min read

Fruit picking is nothing new to Japan, but it was to me. This seemingly national obsession means you can pick pears in Oita, dine on strawberries in Mie, or chow down on cherries in Yamagata. Look hard enough, and there is sure to be some kind of fruit picking experience wherever your travels take you. However, while these places often just let you roam free to eat up a certain amount of yummy fruit in a specified time (not a bad experience at all), for those wanting to learn more of what it actually takes to grow and harvest what we find in our supermarkets, there is one stop to include on your list: Tomato Land Iwaki.

The Japan farming industry has been changing, especially in the Tohoku region since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. A trend towards less or no chemicals, protecting the environment, and creating the freshest flavors means working with technology while still incorporating a human touch. Tomato Land Iwaki does this with their massive greenhouses, and they are more than willing to give a you a peek--and a taste--inside.

Tomato Land Iwaki is a fully operating tomato farm. Anyone at anytime during business hours can stop by the onsite store to purchase fresh tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato jam, and several other tomato food products. What you should do is make an advanced reservation using the online form or phone number on the official website (Japanese only) with your group of five or more. For 1000 yen each you be given a new insight of some cutting edge farming technology, and of course be able to sample some tomatoes you pick yourself!

Walking into the greenhouse enclosure you are taken aback by how big the place is. Ceilings stretch high above your head and the ground is lined with rows and rows of tomatoes. Echoing softly in the background is Japanese folk music. Some people believe plants grow better if you sing or talk to them, but actually the reason for the music is to make the workers, most of them elderly women, happier while they roll up and down rows on their carts to collect tomatoes. The workers were all smiles and happily greeted us.The whole place is clean and rather cool for a greenhouse, which I am told is based on Dutch design. There is no dirt, but rather tomato vines sit in coconut husks which are wrapped and set in long trays.

At the end of each aisle is the name of the tomato species, and there are many to choose from. Try tasting these organic tomatoes right off the vine to your mouth; it's simply delicious. Larger tomatoes are incredibly juicy, while a brand of purple tomatoes was much sweeter than I anticipated. I am not a huge tomato fan myself, but I might be now. I couldn't help myself exploring one flavor after the next and hunting for that perfect tomato with just the right ripeness to it.

One of the cultivation specialists finished our tour outside the greenhouse in the blueberry bush enclosure. Tomatoes are the main show, but some other fruits and veggies are also grown at the farm. Our guide explained how the farm works with technology to not only make the best food product for its consumers, but also to reduce the impact on the environment. On the premises are solar panels, rain collection tanks, and machines that recycle water to reuse.

A trip to Tomato Land Iwaki is a chance to see 21st century farming in practice. Fill your brain with knowledge then your belly with fresh tomatoes with your next trip to Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture.

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Justin Velgus

Justin Velgus @justin.velgus

Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is the Miyagi Prefecture Partner for Japan Travel and a longterm contributor since 2012 with a focus on the Tohoku region.  Justin has written extensively for JT, and other publications such as VisitMiyagi and Sake Today, amassing over 350 published articles introducing the travel and culture of the region. Justin's wealth of experience and knowledge comes from studying in Akita, teaching English in Miyagi through the JET Program, and promoting sake overseas for the government of Fukushima. Now Justin helps with inbound tourism and regional promotion while also enjoying his role as a volunteer tour guide in Sendai, the gyutan capital of the world.

Join the discussion

Elena Lisina a month ago
I'm always amazed how Japanese grow vegetables and berries! It's so different from here!
Justin Velgus Author a month ago
I think we'll be seeing more of this kind of growing as it helps control affects from climate, pests, and produces bigger harvests.
Kim 3 years ago
Not much better than getting to enjoy delicious eats as fresh as that!