Nagano Prefecture is one of the most mountainous prefectures in Japan, with an average altitude of 1132 metres. This makes it a suitable production area for highland vegetables, which grow in a cool climate.
In this article, we will tell you about Kawakami Village in Nagano Prefecture, famous for being the largest producer of lettuce in Japan, a typical example of highland vegetables.
Kawakami Village is the largest lettuce producer in Japan
A village at an altitude of 1,185 metres
Kawakami Village, located in Minamisaku District, Nagano Prefecture, is the largest producer of lettuce in Japan, with an annual output of over 80,000 tonnes.
Kawakami Village is at an altitude of 1185 metres. Despite the high altitude, there is also a lot of flat land, making it an easy place to grow fields.
Lettuce fields all around
If you drive along the roads of Kawakami village in the summer season, you will see fields of lettuce all around.
The green fields against the backdrop of the mountains can be seen everywhere you go in Kawakami.
Large tractors for agriculture
This is a view of the field after the lettuce harvest. When you go to the plateau, you often see large agricultural tractors like this one.
The tractor in the photo is a lettuce transport tractor used in Kawakami village.
The size of the tyres is very large because it is used to load large quantities of lettuce in containers.
Types of lettuce produced in Kawakami Village
The following types of lettuce are produced in Kawakami Village.
- Head Lettuce (Ball lettuce, Olympia, Butter lettuce)
- Leaf Lettuce (Sunny lettuce, Batavia lettuce, Frilled lettuce, Green leaf, Eumai lettuce)
- Semi-Cuberous Lettuce (Romaine lettuce, River green)
As the name suggests, head lettuce is a round ball, leaf lettuce has an open leafy end, and semi-cuberous lettuce is a lettuce with a shape somewhere in between.
Each type of lettuce has a different texture and taste. It can be eaten in salads, sandwiches, stir-fries and soups.
The most common lettuces sold in supermarkets are ball lettuce, sunny lettuce and silk lettuce. However, if you visit the Kawakami Village Market, you will find lettuce that is not so easy to find.
Vegetable shop in Kawakami village
You can buy lettuce and highland vegetables produced in Kawakami village at the “Marche Kawakami”, next to the village hall.
Access, parking and opening hours of Marche Kawakami
|Access||The “Marche Kawakami” is located next to the Kawakami village hall.|
|Opening hours||Tue & Sat 10.00-15.00 (from April to November) * Temporarily closed|
|Parking||Available (free of charge)|
From July until around early November
Located in the village that produces the most lettuce in Japan, Marche Kawakami has a wide variety of lettuce for sale.
Lettuce is a summer vegetable, but when I visited in mid-October, silk lettuce, ball lettuce and non-collapsing lettuce were all on sale. All the lettuces were fresh and sweet.
About lettuce in Japan
How long has lettuce been grown in Japan?
How long has lettuce been eaten in Japan?
Lettuce has been grown in Japan since the Nara period (710-794). The variety of lettuce cultivated at that time was the leaf lettuce, like Korean stem lettuce.
The round shaped lettuce that we see today seems to have been first cultivated in Nagano Prefecture in 1947.
Tips for eating lettuce fresh
Fresh lettuce is best when eaten raw. I like to use grated carrot and onion dressing, or a salad with Kaldi’s Umatare dressing.
By the way, there was a TV programme that said if you put a few toothpicks into the core of the lettuce, it will stop it from growing and keep the lettuce fresh.
Lettuce summary in Kawakami Village
A village on the plateau with greenery
There are many areas where highland vegetables are grown, but Kawakami Village is one of the most impressive, with the green of the lettuce spreading out before you wherever you go.
If you stop by Kawakami Village, why not buy a variety of lettuces?
You can find out more about the surrounding area in this article.