When I was researching this article, the harvest had already begun at the Souju olive garden, which is located in the Kokubunji town area of Takamatsu city, Kagawa, a place where pilgrims come and go.
While Shodoshima Island is famous for its olive production, Kokubunji is well known throughout Japan as an area that produces bonsai trees. When it began in 1928, Souju too was originally a bonsai garden specializing in pine trees. However, over time they found that some ornamental greens could be turned into bonsai, and apparently that’s how they started growing olives.
Bonsai trees are truly delicate works of art that require much nurturing. Making use of their experience and knowledge, even ornamental olives are shaped so that they grow to resemble the old trees of Europe!
In one nook of the greenhouse, there is a really rare olive tree grown in the style of a bonsai. Very Japanese, wouldn’t you say?
Souju’s beautifully shaped olive trees attract the attention of gardeners and flower shops all over Japan.
If in Tokyo you find an olive tree on the corner of some street, it’s an olive tree that has come all the way from the Setouchi region!
And then, using the fruit of the olive trees, products such as preserving salt, oil and other foods, as well as soups and cosmetic oils among other cosmetics are made.
While they ripen, olives can become 7 different shades of color; green to yellow, red, purple… And, depending on what stage they are pressed, you can enjoy differences in fragrance and color of the oil.
When pressing young olives that are still green, you get very spicy raw oil with a flavor that resembles fresh fruit juice. As it’s really delicious even on ice cream, do have a try.
Every year in late November, the oil is available at dealers within and outside the prefecture as well as at the garden’s online shop.
How about heading over to the Setouchi region in wintertime to search for olives??
Address: 1964-5 Nii, Kokubunji-cho, Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture
Official website: http://www.souju.co.jp (Japanese)
Online shop: http://ec.souju.co.jp (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers:
Text: Tomoko Kawai (Dream Network Activity)
Photographs: Takabumi Yanagisawa (Dream Network Activity)
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