As D put it today as he was talking to our little T about the fruit he was peeling, we now “have a much greater appreciation for these little Mikan.”
Before, it was just a mandarin orange, a clementine or a cutie. Actually, D swears he never even saw one before we got here. In Japan, they line the shelves of the grocery stores and convenience stores at this time of year. We have been given them as gifts, presented as near sacred nectar. Until Thanksgiving Day though, we could not appreciate the little orange fruit as they do.
In imminent anticipation of our baby, we did not make elaborate plans for the Thanksgiving weekend. We wanted to stay close to home and enjoy our last moments as a family of three. So, on Monday or Tuesday of that week, we decided to forgo the traditional turkey and fixings and opt for a more traditional Japanese experience instead. Mikan picking!
We took the train to the orchard in Miura, about 45 minutes south of home. There, situated in front of a hillside of dark green trees, speckled with bright orange Mikan, is a little house. Two ladies, who have been collecting money and weighing Mikan for years, sit out front on the porch. They outfitted the three of us with a basket and shears and welcomed us to explore their orchard.
It was cold and wet and beautiful. We walked back through the maze of trees, stopping to admire and clip the tiny fruit. T was in on the fun from the beginning. Her perspective was actually the best for picking the sweetest fruit.
We found that those at the bottom of the trees were the sweetest with the thinnest peel. T was a natural expert to make the finest selections! In a small clearing, we spread out our picnic mats, snacked on PB&J, and ate our fill of Mikan. We posed for photos, crawled under low hanging branches, and filled our basket.
Now, after our Mikan Thanksgiving, we will never see this little orange fruit in the same way. A taste of Japan and memory of our family of three.