May 5, 2018
Maybe it's happened to you. You pass some random plant growing out of the cracks in the sidewalk or taking over the riverbanks and wonder, that kinda looks like it's edible, but I don't feel like testing my stomach today.
I saw these berry-looking plants a couple years ago and wondered what they were, but didn't see anyone eating them, including the birds. I assumed they were poisonous or something. They looked like a wild raspberry - not quite the same as what I'm used to.
Today there was a whole bunch of it growing along a street and up a hill. I saw a couple people picking and eating, and even collecting the red berries. So I thought, it's time to find out, let's ask!
Hai! Oishii dayo!
I even asked what they're called. Ki ichigo, or tree strawberry, is what those folks know them as. I looked that up and it turns out that it means raspberry, although it includes over 80 varieties from all over the world, like blackberry and boysenberry.
The taste is closest to raspberry, but slightly crunchy. I feel like it's similar to eating ikura but with a totally different flavor. At first I kept taking the darker berries thinking they were ripe, but they were actually overripe and often had bugs inside them. The bright red ones were perfect.
If you often feel like the cost of fruit in Japan is too expensive, maybe it's time to get out into the countryside to find some ki ichigo to snack on! (As long as it's growing in a public area and not on someone's property.)