Looking for recipes to celebrate Blueberry Pie Day on the 28th of April, I learned that blueberries are native to the Americas and were turned into a commercial product in New Jersey at the beginning of the 20th Century. Although blueberries have become the latest health berry in the UK as elsewhere, they were only introduced as a crop here in 1952. Introduction of blueberries as a crop in Japan occurred a year or so earlier, and the Japanese highlands were the location of choice because of the acidic volcanic content in its soil. Aha!
Now I finally understand why my childhood summers in the Mount Asama foothills were spent with blueberry-stuffed cheeks.
In the early days, my sister and I figured we had to eat the blueberries in our garden before the Alpine Macaques got to them. Then as we got older, we collected the berries to make crêpes with blueberry jam. Local bakeries and cafés spoiled us with blueberry pie, cheesecake and ice-cream. They made blueberry coulis on shaved ice and a liquor store even carried blueberry liqueur.
Long story short, that’s how I came to think of Asama Alpinists as Japanese as Blueberry Pie.
Enjoy your blueberries in whatever shape or form!