Shonan Gold: The hidden gold of Kanagawa
Can you feel it? That subtle scent—the pink atmosphere accompanied by flowers delicately edging into our periphery. Spring is upon us—and what could embody springtime more than the sakura season in March? While it takes centre stage in Japan and the rest of the world, however, there is another seasonal flower quietly blooming in the wings.
In the months of March to May, you would be able to find gold of the delicious sort hidden in Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県 Kanagawa-ken). Known as “Shonan Gold” (湘南ゴールド Shōnan Gold), this ”gold” is a citrus fruit that resembles a lemon’s characteristically golden bright yellow colour yet looks just like an orange on the inside! A cross between the Ogonkan (黄金柑, a typically “golden'' bright yellow citrus) and the Imamura Unshu (今村温州, a variety of mandarin orange or satsuma mikan), it originated from the Kanagawa Agricultural Technology Centre (神奈川県農業技術センター) in Odawara (小田原).
(Image credit: Odawara City)
As fragrant as its mother plant Ogonkan, Shonan Gold’s refreshing sweetness lightly coats the palate with an undertone of tartness that will surely whet your appetite. With its small size, you can easily grasp two to three in your hand while you savour it. Moreover, the peel of the Shonan Gold is smooth and extremely easy to peel by hand. Since it retains its flavour until May when satsuma mikan runs scarce, you can extend the taste of spring leading into summer with this refreshing fruit.
Nature’s Shonan Gold-flavoured jelly. (Image credit: K.K.Nature)
There is a wide assortment of products made from the fruit. For instance, Nature (ナチュレ), a well-known sweets company from Kanagawa Prefecture, creates jellies of various flavours, one of which features the seasonal fruit when it is available. Between gummies and sweets, to Shonan Gold honey, and even Shоnan Gold wine and craft beer that sparkle a beautiful clear gold, you will be spoilt for choice!
Why not try a Shonan Gold-flavoured pound cake? (Image credit: KONDITORI Stern)
First cultivated in 1988, it was then selected and propagated until 1999 to stabilise the hybrid’s characteristics, then officially registered in Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) in 2003. However, the production volume of Shonan Gold each harvest is so low that it also came to be known as the “phantom orange”. Kanagawa Prefecture accounts for 100% of the production of Shonan Gold in Japan, with major producers being Odawara and Yugawara (湯河原).
Why not head over to either of those two destinations to try out the fruit fresh from the farms? Furthermore, both destinations make for extremely fantastic sightseeing additions to your itinerary aside from the more popular Hakone, Kamakura, and Yokohama.
Orange Garden (オーランジェ・ガルデン)
Address: 524-2 Nebukawa, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa 250-0024
Nearest station: Nebukawa Station (根府川駅) (Orange Garden is a 20-minute-walk from Nebukawa Station (JR Tokaido Line), with shuttle bus services also available from the station.)
Opening hours: 09:00–16:30
Admission fee: ¥350 (Adults), ¥200 (Children)
Tel: +81 465-29-0703
Odawara Castle is known for its stunning sakura views in spring. (Image credit: Odawara City)
Odawara City is most well-known for Odawara Castle (小田原城) and its surrounding park and castle gates, especially during the sakura season. The magnificent castle encircled by a sea of pink is certainly a sight to behold. Having been built during the Muromachi Era (1338-1573), it is one of Kanagawa Prefecture’s long-standing historical and cultural architecture.
Odawara Castle Park (小田原城址公園)
Address: 6 Jonai, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa 250-0014
Nearest station: Odawara Station (小田原駅)
Opening hours: 24 hours
Admission fee: Free
Tel: +81 465-23-1373
One of Yugawara Town’s onsen. (Image credit: Yugawara Town)
Yugawara Town is one of Kanagawa’s onsen towns, and it even makes an appearance in the Manyoshu (万葉集 Man'yōshū)—Japan’s oldest collection of poetry! If you are looking for an onsen resort getaway, Yugawara Town is certainly one such destination with beautiful landscape.
Kogome no Yu (こごめの湯)
Address: 562-6 Miyakami, Yugawara, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 259-0314
Nearest station: Yugawara Station (湯河原駅) (From Yugawara Station, take the bus to Koen-iriguchi Bus Stop. From there, Kogome no Yu is a 3-minute walk away.)
Opening hours: 09:00–21:00 (reception until 20:30), closed on Mondays
Admission fee: ¥1,100 (Adults), ¥600 (Children)
Tel: +81 465-63-6944
Taste Shonan Gold in Singapore
Now that you’ve had a glimpse at Kanagawa’s seasonal elusive gold along with a few of its sightseeing offers, wouldn’t you like to try it for yourself? You might be delighted to know that it’s available in Singapore for a limited time!
Enjoy the whole fruit in its full glory, or part of a refreshing meal with the Cold Shonan Gold Soba! (Image credit: Fish Mart SAKURAYA)
Fish Mart SAKURAYA offers the choice of sinking your teeth into the juicy fruit at $12.80 per pack, and also trying out their Cold Shonan Gold Soba at $14. This refreshing dish is perfect for sunny Singapore, where you can enjoy cold buckwheat noodles topped with fried chicken tempura, fresh mustard greens, and Shonan Gold slices that adds a golden zest to the entire meal. Try it at any of Fish Mart SAKURAYA outlets in Parkway Parade, Anchorpoint Shopping Centre, West Coast Plaza, or Seletar Mall.
Nature's Shonan Gold jelly is available for sale in H.I.S. International. (Image credit: K.K.Nature and H.I.S. International)
If you're in the mood for a light snack or dessert, check out Nature’s seasonal Shonan Gold jelly. As introduced above, Nature is a popular jelly-manufacturing company from Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, which specialises in manufacturing jellies featuring various fruits from all over Japan. For a limited time only, you can find the Shonan Gold jellies—along with a few other flavours—at HIS International's retail selection in 100AM shopping mall.
Header image credit: Odawara City
This article is written in collaboration with JETRO Singapore Kanagawa Division.