Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari, a Cucumber of Hiratsuka Tradition

Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture
(Month information was collected: June 2023)
Discover the fascinating tale of the Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari, a long-lost Kanagawa vegetable known as the phantom cucumber, reintroduced by the Shonan Cucumber Farm in Hiratsuka after 50 years.

The rare white cucumber vanished during the Western food craze


Hiratsuka is known for its thriving agriculture. The city is situated in the lower regions of the Sagami and Kaname Rivers and benefits from its abundant water resources and level land, boasting the greatest rice output in Kanagawa prefecture. Its proximity to Tokyo and Yokohama has contributed significantly to the growth of greenhouse vegetable farming, particularly for crops like tomatoes and cucumbers.


Shonan Cucumber Farm was established in Hiratsuka in 1971 and specializes in cucumbers. Takahiro Yoshikawa became the third successor of the farm in 2011. When he began growing cucumbers, he also began growing the rare Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari variety, which had vanished from the market then, as part of his research.

According to Takahiro, people tend to only consider the price of cucumbers. “To showcase the various types of cucumbers and the history of their cultivation in Hiratsuka, I decided to bring back Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari. Also, as it has a different look and texture, I thought it might feel new to today’s customers.”


As its name suggests, Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari (Hanjiro means half-white) is a half-white colored cucumber with a crisp texture. It used to be commonly enjoyed as pickles at home, but during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a Western food craze took hold. The trend of using vibrant green cucumbers as a garnish for burgers and pasta led to a decrease in the cultivation of the Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari variety.


According to Takahiro, Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari, a cucumber variety created in Hiratsuka in 1929, is steeped in the history of the local agriculture.
While cucumbers are typically in season during the summer, Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari is available in late spring. It was developed by selecting an earlier growing variety of Tokyo’s Magome Hanjiro cucumber, allowing it to be shipped earlier to meet the high demand in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Cucumbers are easily affected by the weather


The Shonan Cucumber Farm grows a total of six cucumber varieties. There are five greenhouses with a combined area of 1.9 acres. Most of the cucumbers grown are common, with only a few unique varieties, including Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari and gherkins for pickles.


Although Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari is normally harvested from April to late May, Takahiro harvests from late February to mid-July to supply the market as long as possible. The variety is highly sensitive to high temperatures and drought, and its yield varies significantly based on weather conditions. This makes it challenging to manage its growth.
Takahiro comments, “Ensuring a comfortable greenhouse environment for the cucumbers is crucial. This involves providing proper watering and sunlight.”

Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari requires more effort to grow and has a lower yield than newer varieties, as it is prone to disease. Still, Takahiro says he wants to continue producing these rare cucumbers for food education. He also values his ties with the local communities, welcoming grade school children for hands-on farming lessons.


Takahiro explains, “I want to pass on Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari as a traditional vegetable representing Hiratsuka. I’ve been growing it for more than 10 years with this in mind. These cucumbers used in local restaurants and appreciated by young mothers as a rare vegetable and by older people as something nostalgic. I can’t produce them in large quantities, but I hope visitors to Hiratsuka will enjoy this local vegetable.”

Takahiro's excellent Pork-Wrapped Hanjiro Cucumbers

Takahiro’s mother, Yachiyo, taught us how to enjoy Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari.

Yachiyo comments, “My sister came up with this recipe and won a prize in the Kanagawa Prefecture Home Cooking Competition for families with children in primary and middle schools here. I recommend heating the cucumbers before eating. Don’t forget to put mayonnaise on them. Even children will gobble them up!”



Pork-Wrapped Hanjiro Cucumbers

The heated Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari has a texture similar to zucchini. Paired with flavorful pork, well seasoned with salt and pepper, and mayonnaise, the delicious taste lingers in the mouth.

Sagami Hanjiro Fushinari from Hiratsuka

Source:Takahiro Yoshikawa, Shonan Cucumber Farm

Peak Season

From late February to mid-July

How to enjoy them

Pickled or heated is recommended.
Don’t forget mayonnaise for the Pork-Wrapped Hanjiro cucumbers.

Photographer : SHIOMI KITAURA

Shonan Cucumber Farm

Address 292 Kidokoro, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture

Kanagawa Prefecture  Tourism Information
Japan Travel

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