Ushimado Olive Garden
When you think of Japan olives might not be the first thing that comes to mind but in fact they are widely produced in the south western part of the country. The Olive Garden in Ushimado, Setouchi City, Okayama, has the largest olive tree orchard in Japan.
After World War II, many Japanese companies were looking for way to reinvent themselves and revitalize Japan. Nippon Olive Corporation was born of this zeal. With Okayama’s Mediterranean climate and fertile soil, and olive orchard proved to be an innovative way to take a family business into the future.
The 10,000 trees that make up the orchard are on the hills above central Ushimado. Entrance and parking are free, allowing visitors to devote their savings toward the olive-based products on offer at the garden’s shop. The shop, which is located on the first floor of a modern version of a pagoda, carries all manner of souvenirs to remind you of your visit. The upper floors of the building provide a spectacular panorama of the Seto Inland Sea and the offshore islands of the area.
Once a month, there is a quaint morning market held on Sunday. Local food vendors set up in the main square of the garden right outside the garden shop. Locally produced handicrafts are sold at stalls located on the hilltop meadow, creating a Mediterranean market feeling.
The must eat item at the Olive Garden that is available all year round is the olive ice cream. It is absolutely delicious! It is the first and last thing that everyone grabs when they visit and is so good you might have two.
Summer is the busiest season so expect a crowd if you go that time of year. The Olive Garden in Ushimado is an amazing escape that is not too far from home.