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Persimmon harvest at its peak in Japan's largest producing city

Persimmons harvesting season is at its peak now in Gojo in Nara prefecture, Japan. The city that enjoys the largest production of the fruit in the country.

The Nishi-Yoshinocho district in Gojo is located on the prefecture boundary with Wakayama, in a mountainous area. The mountain stands in a region known as “Yoshino and Omine,” which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the harvesting season, the mountain slopes are covered with persimmon trees bearing coloured fruits.

Third-generation farmer Yoshiaki Okamoto, 45, cultivates persimmon trees on 4.4 hectares of mountainous land about 400 meters above sea level.

“In this area, lands at an altitude of 200 to 400 meters are suitable for persimmon trees,” Okamoto said. “Any higher and the trees won’t bear good fruit because the temperature is too low. If it’s lower down, on the other hand, the fruits won’t be well-colored because the daily range of temperature is too narrow. Persimmons in Nishi-Yoshino have a mild sweetness, thanks to the moderate daily range of temperatures before harvesting time.”

The harvest season begins in mid-September and continues through the end of the year, with different harvesting times according to the variety. The season starts with harvesting tone-wase, a seedless astringent persimmon. Harvests begin for hira-tanenashi, another variety of seedless astringent persimmon, in late October.

In early November, the popular sweet persimmon fuyu appears on the market. These days however, many farmers grow persimmon trees in greenhouses, so they can extend their harvest from early July onward.

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