The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding the Appeal of Kyoho Grapes

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding the Appeal of Kyoho Grapes

Where do Kyoho Grapes originate from?

Japan's love for perfection and uniqueness has led to some incredible creations, and their grapes are no exception. Enter Kyoho grapes (巨峰), star-studded grapes that have captured the hearts and taste buds of many around the globe. Known for their large size, thick skins, and juicy sweetness, Kyoho grapes are a true testament to Japan's meticulous horticulture.

 

Kyoho grapes
Photo by photoAC

But where do these stellar fruits hail from? It's none other than the Land of the Rising Sun itself. Kyoho grapes were bred in Japan in the 1930s and quickly became a popular variety. The name "Kyoho" translates to "giant mountain grapes", hinting at their large size and the mountainous regions they thrive in. The parent varieties that were crossbred to produce the Kyoho were Ishiharawase and Centennial, chosen for their excellent flavor and size traits, respectively.

 

Kyoho grapes in a vineyardPhoto by photoAC

Though the Kyoho was originally bred in Japan, it's now grown in several countries worldwide, including China, Korea, and the United States, particularly in California. However, Japan remains the leading producer of Kyoho grapes. Specific regions in Japan, such as Yamanashi and Nagano, are particularly famed for their Kyoho grape cultivation. They offer the perfect combination of soil composition and climate, ideal for nurturing these juicy, sweet, and slightly sour grapes.

 

Popular Desserts Made from Kyoho Grapes

Kyoho grapes aren't just enjoyed as a fresh fruit; they've also found their way into the kitchen, with chefs using them to create delectable desserts. The grape's natural sweetness and slight tartness make it an ideal ingredient for a variety of sweet treats.


Star Kyoho grapesPhoto by photoAC

One of the most popular Kyoho grape desserts is Kyoho grape jelly (巨峰ゼリー). This dessert perfectly captures the grape's essence, combining its sweet and tart flavors with the refreshing feel of jelly. In Japan, it's commonly served in the summer as a light and cooling dessert. The jelly, made from the grape juice, is often filled with a whole grape for a delightful surprise.

 

Kyoho grape sorbet ice cream dessert
A refreshing kyoho grape sorbet | Photo by photoAC

Kyoho grape sorbet is another refreshing dessert that showcases the fruit's distinct flavor. The sorbet is typically made with just grape juice, sugar, and a bit of lemon juice, allowing the grape's natural flavors to shine through. It's the perfect dessert to beat the summer heat and enjoy the rich flavor of Kyoho grapes at the same time.

 

Kyoho and shine muscat tart
The kings and queens of Japanese grapes (Kyoho & Shine Muscat) on a tart | Photo by photoAC

Kyoho grapes can also be used in baked goods. They're a great addition to tarts, adding a sweet and slightly sour pop of flavour. Kyoho grape tarts often feature the grapes as the star, with the grapes sitting atop a creamy custard filling.

 

Red wine with grapes

Finally, there's the decadent Kyoho grape wine. Yes, these grapes aren't just confined to desserts! The wine made from Kyoho grapes is known for its rich, fruity flavour and deep purple color. It's a great way to enjoy the essence of Kyoho grapes in a more grown-up way.

 


Kyoho Grapes Season

Variety of grapes
Photo by photoAC

Just like other fruits, Kyoho grapes have a specific growing season. Knowing when this season is will help you enjoy the grapes at their freshest and most flavorful. Typically, the Kyoho grape season starts in mid-summer and lasts until early fall. This is when the grapes reach their peak sweetness and size.

 

Wrapped kyoho grapes and shine muscats
Photo by photoAC

During the season, you'll find Kyoho grapes in many grocery stores and markets across Japan. They're often packaged in beautiful boxes, making them popular gifts. You might also see vendors selling them at roadside stands, especially in the grape-growing regions of Yamanashi and Nagano.

 

Kyoho grapes in the farm
Photo by photoAC

Farmers take great care during the harvest season to ensure the grapes are picked at just the right time. The grapes need to be ripe enough to reach their full flavor potential, but not overly so that they become mushy or spoil quickly. It's a delicate balance that requires a good understanding of the grape's growing habits and close monitoring of the vineyard.

 

When are they harvested?

Harvesting kyoho grapes
Photo by photoAC

In Japan, Kyoho grapes are typically harvested in late August to September. This is when the grapes have developed their characteristic large size and sweet, slightly tart flavor. However, the exact timing can vary based on the local climate and weather conditions. In regions with milder summers, the harvest might start a bit later, while in hotter regions, it could begin earlier.

Harvesting Kyoho grapes is a labour-intensive process, requiring careful handling to avoid damaging the fruit. The grapes are often hand-picked, one cluster at a time. After picking, the grapes are carefully packaged to protect them during transport.

 

Father and child grape picking
Photo by photoAC

It's also worth noting that some farmers in Japan offer grape-picking experiences during the harvest season. Visitors can go to the vineyards, learn about the growing and harvesting process, and pick their own grapes. It's a fun and educational activity that lets you appreciate the hard work that goes into growing these incredible fruits.

 

Kyoho grapes in a basket
Photo by photoAC

So, there you have it: a closer look at the star of Japanese vineyards, the Kyoho grape. From its origins in Japan's mountainous regions to the delicious desserts made from it and its harvest season, this grape truly is a unique gem in the fruit world. Whether you're a fruit lover, a foodie, or simply curious about different types of fruits, the Kyoho grape is definitely worth trying.

 

Experience the Season with a Japanese Snack Box Subscription

There's something special about eating fruits in their peak season, isn't there? You get to enjoy them at their freshest, juiciest, and most flavorful. But what if you're not in Japan to enjoy the Kyoho grape season? Don't worry, we've got you covered. With JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s Omiyage Snack Box Subscription, you can experience a taste of Japan's seasons, including autumn's bountiful harvest, right at your doorstep.

Our snack box isn't just about traditional Japanese snacks. We also include treats that feature seasonal fruits, like the Kyoho grapes during their harvest season, as part of the snack box. It's our way of letting you experience Japan's rich and diverse food culture, one season at a time. Trust us, your taste buds are in for a treat!

Meet the author

Snack Lover

JAPAN RAIL CLUB's resident Snack Lover is on a mission to prove that there's a world of wonder within each snack! Whether in the form of a blog post or an info bite, find out more about the history, culture, and stories of each snack that Japan has to offer with Snack Lover. Snack Lover believes that it's not just about the snacks; it's about sharing, connecting, and creating unforgettable moments with loved ones.

Hungry for more?

Get on track with our monthly offerings of exclusive snacks from all over Japan!

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5 Must-Visit Ski Resorts To Visit Outside of Hokkaido: Exploring Japan's Best Slopes
Sue Lynn

5 Must-Visit Ski Resorts To Visit Outside of Ho...

Have you ever gone skiing or snowboarding in Japan? In Japan, although skiing as a means of transportation had been around for centuries in communities living in high snowfall areas,...

Carissa Loh Winter

5 Must-Visit Ski Resorts To Visit Outside of Ho...

Have you ever gone skiing or snowboarding in Japan? In Japan, although skiing as a...

December Maker's Story: Arida Mikan from Sowa Kajuen
Sue Lynn

December Maker's Story: Arida Mikan from Sowa K...

December is the month of citrus, including mikan or mandarin oranges from Arida! We caught up with Mr. Ueyama (上山) from Sowa Kajuen from Arida City, Wakayama Prefecture to find...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

December Maker's Story: Arida Mikan from Sowa K...

December is the month of citrus, including mikan or mandarin oranges from Arida! We caught...

December Maker’s Story: Yuzu from Umaji Village in Kochi
Sue Lynn

December Maker’s Story: Yuzu from Umaji Village...

Umaji Village is known as the Village of Yuzu! We had a chat with Mr. Iwasada (岩貞) of Umaji Village Agricultural Co-operative, to find out more about the village of...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

December Maker’s Story: Yuzu from Umaji Village...

Umaji Village is known as the Village of Yuzu! We had a chat with Mr....

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding the Appeal of Kyoho Grapes
Sue Lynn

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding t...

Where do Kyoho Grapes originate from? Japan's love for perfection and uniqueness has led to some incredible creations, and their grapes are no exception. Enter Kyoho grapes (巨峰), star-studded grapes...

Snack Lover Autumn

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding t...

Where do Kyoho Grapes originate from? Japan's love for perfection and uniqueness has led to...