Exploring Shizuoka by Train 1: Along the Tenhama Railway Line!

When it comes to visit Shizuoka Prefecture off the beaten tracks the both simplest and most pleasurable way to do it at leisure is to board one of the half-dozen private railway lines or four regional tracks that cross our region in all directions.
The Tenhama/天浜線 runs from Kakegawa Station halfway between Shizuoka City and Hamamatsu city to Shinjyobara/新所原, the last station in Western Shizuoka.

First of all buy a one-day ticket inside the tiny station which will allow you to use the Line all day regardless how many times you get off the train for 1,500 yen (almost half of the full trip without being allowed to get off!)

This is our train, a single-carriage affair, fairly comfortable and properly air-conditioned!

A view of the inside!
Don’t be misled, it is full at some times of the day with students and commuters as this is the only railway going around across the Tenryu River/天竜川 and Lake Hamana/浜名湖!

Sakuragi Station/桜気駅

Now, there are lots of pictures to be taken as no less than 11 stations have been nominated Shizuoka Cultural Property/静岡県文化財!
The first one is Sakuragi Station/桜気駅!
Also keep in mind that the trip is worth doing at any time or season ofthe year as you are travelling the Shizuoka “outback”!

Haranoya Station/原谷駅!

Deep through country!

A local stream whose name I couldn’t find!

Enshyuumori Station/遠州盛り駅!

Plenty of flowers in gardens along the track!

This is also green tea country!

Tootouichinomiya Station/遠江一宮駅!

A local high school student going through the cute station exit!

This line has been in service for a very long time as shown by this signboard in Kaminobe Station/上野部駅!

Tenhama Futamata Station/天浜二俣駅!

A friendly chat with a local commuter!

Futamata Honcho Station/二俣本町駅!
I stopped at this station (not a cultural asset) as I wanted to have a lunch in a famous if small local soba shop!
The chair all made of local wood was donated by the locals for the comfort of the travelers!

Nice old (very) small station!

Hazuki Soba Shop/葉月そば!

Delicious hot gobou soba/牛蒡そば/buckwheat noodles topped with plenty of local burdock roots!

Running across the Tenryuu river/天竜川, one the main rivers in Shizuoka Prefecture!

Gansuiji Station/岩水寺駅!

Miyaguchi Station/宮口駅!

Have you ever heard of the “Three Monkeys Not Taking Responsibility of the Fourth Thief Monkey”?

Bye-bye Monkeys!

Your servant at Fruit Park Station, not a cultural asset, but still a cute little station!

I got off there to visit the Hamamatsu City Fruit Park!

Definitely worth the stop as you will have a full hour until the next train!

Quaint public toilets!

A panel announcing the Miyakoda Princess parade Festival/都田姫様遊中祭 taking place on the first week of of April every year!

Kanasashi Station/金指駅 just after the Hamamatsu University Station!

Kiga Station/気賀駅!

Nishi Kiga Station/西気賀駅!

The first sight of Lake Hamana/浜名湖!

An inlet just along the track!

Orange toilets! This is orange country!

Lake Hamana is the largest salt lake in Japan, celebrated for its oysters, eels, cockles and doman crab!

Mikkabi Station/三ケ日駅 , the last cultural asset station!

These toilets at Ona Station/尾奈駅 are not cultural assets but they represent a pot used to carry eels, the specialty of the region!

To continue…

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Advertisements

Shizen No Chikara Organic Farm: Visit by “47 Japanese Farms” in Shizuoka City!

Syunsuke Sano/佐野俊介 of Shizen No Chikara Organic Farm explaining his craft to Roshni Nirody and Sara Harriger of the U.S. Department of State

Ms. Roshni M. Nirody (from New Jersey) and Ms. Sara Harriger (Alaska) employed by the U.S. Department of State working for the Foreign Service Institute, Japanese language and Area Training Center at the U.S. Embassy in Japan paid us a visit in Shizuoka City!
Not only these young ladies speak very good Japanese on top of their native language but even more languages, a undisputable proof of their ability for their jobs!
They have initiated their own grand three and a half year project at 47 Farms to examine Japanese agriculture through interviews and working farm stays with farmers in each of Japan`s 47 prefectural entities!
Read more HERE, it is certainly worth a very long look!
To cut a story short they contacted me as they wanted to discover what Shizuoka Farms had in store for them!
Actually Shizuoka does have a lot, but to make easier for their first visit I and a staff at M2 labo decided to take them to new but already very influential Organic Farm in Shizuoka City and Prefecture called Shizen No Chikara Farm.

Organic Tomatoes!

Shizen No Chikara Farm has plots in Sena, Shimo, Nippon Daira and many others in the Prefecture.
We took them to Sena where the man in charge, Syunsuke Sano/佐野俊介 was kind enough to explain his crafts and answer quite a few very pointed questions from our lady guests!

All the cultivation is organic in the strict sense with no insecticides, or any agrichemicals.
The insects are fought off with natural repellents concocted by the farmers, catch fly sticky tapes or with natural enemies such as ladybugs!

Temperature and humidity are constantly checked and monitored!

For the moment they grow five varieties of tomatoes there!

These will go to the top restaurants in the Prefecture!

Now, Shizen No Chikara succeeded a very difficult organic cultivation at their first attempt: strawberries!

The strawberries are not allowed to come in contact with the floor or soil!
No need to mention this is all daily back-breaking work!

The greenhouse has its own beehive!

Even the beehive is kept super clean!

The bees are vital for a regular pollination and beautiful berries!

Organic mini daikon!

We then proceeded to the plot in Shimo to have a look at the their root and leaf vegetables!

Row of mini daikons!

Komatsuna left to look after their harvested rows!

Hosonegi/scallions/mini leeks!

Leeks are great to fight common colds!

Big white daikons!

Japanese gastronomy wouldn’t exist without these!

Beautiful radishes and turnips just harvested!

The same in their rows!

This visit was all too short for my own satisfaction and I already have invited our sweet visitors to come again as soon as possible!
I’m already planning visits to Numazu and Fujinomiya Cities!
Our two ladies are not only lovers of agriculture but also gastronomes. I have a few breweries and izakayas in mind for them!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Kitayama Organic Farm: Great Chefs meet Great Farmers in Fujinomiya City!

Fuminori Nishitani/藤谷文紀 of Nori in Fujieda City, Tooru Arima/有馬亨 of Pissenlit in Shizuoka City and the Hirakakis, Masaaki and Kiko/平垣正明・紀子 at Kitayama Organic Farm/北山農園 in Fujinomiya City!

Today I finally had the honor and pleasure to introduce two of the very top chefs in Shizuoka Prefecture, namely Fuminori Nishitani/藤谷文紀 of Nori in Fujieda City and Tooru Arima/有馬亨 of Pissenlit in Shizuoka City to the Hirakakis, Masaaki and Kiko/正明・紀子, owners and producers at Kitayama Organic Farm/北山農園 in Fujinomiya City!
This had been long in the offing and the three of us decided to drive this Tuesday all the way from Shizuoka City to Fujinomiya City at the very foot of Mount Fuji to visit the Organic Farm of the Kitayamas not only for a formal meeting but also to establish a gastronomic event to take place in the very near future!

The Hirakakis have refurbished this ancient farmhouse on their own!
Both were professional photographers before deciding to venture in organic farming!

Pure water gushing down the slopes of Mount Fuji is one reason why Fujinomiya City is so celebrated for its superlative agriculture!

Having gone through the necessary introductions I made myself scarce after a while to let them discuss their plans.
The two chefs had struck on the idea of a collaboration dinner at Restaurant Pissenlit on the 10th of March based on the vegetables grown by the Kitayamas whose merits I had praised for some time.

Some of their vegetables on the table around which they were sitting…

Delicious pickles from the same vegetables.
Sorry for the fuzzy pictures but it was very dark inside the farmhouse!

More pickles…

While they were deep in talks I took a peek inside a greenhouse behind the farmhouse.
What are these?

All kinds of sliced radishes and turnips left to dry!

Swiss chards!

I came back to find them snacking on dried sweet potatoes!

Artichokes that will be harvested beginning of next summer!

Time had finally come to make a grand tour of the 3 ha where the Kitayamas grow more than 190 varieties of organic vegetables at different times of the year!

Golden carrot!

Burgundy carrot!

Cute orange carrot!

Purple daikon field!

The purple daikon!

To be frank, there were so many kinds I didn’t have the time to write down their names! Shall we call these mini thread purple and white daikon?

Komatsuna!

Romanesco broccoli!

Red daikon field!

Organic cabbages!

Organic red cabbages!

Shimonita leeks field!

Highly valued variety of leek in Japan!

Some of the beauties I took back home!

Looking forward to visiting the Kitayamas again next spring!

KITAYAMA ORGANIC FARM

Masaaki and Kiko Hirakaki
418-0112 Fujinomiya Shi, Kitayama, 3102
Tel./Fax: 0544-25-2795
Mobile phone: 090-2261-8821
HOMEPAGE
Private orders welcome over the phone!

PISSENLIT

420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo, 2-3-4
Tel.: 054-270-8768
Fax: 054-627-3868
Business hours: 11:30~14:30; 17:00~22:00
Closed on Tuesdays and Sunday evening
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
E-Mail: pissenlit2008@ybb.ne.jp
Credit Cards OK
Entirely non-smoking!

NORI

426-0204 Shizuoka Ken, Fujieda Shi, Tokigaya, 864-3
Tel./Fax: 054-641-4778
Opening hours: 11:30~14:00; 18:00~22:00
On reservation only for dinner
Closed on Tuesdays and first Monday
Credit cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese, but do check it for great photographs of the house and garden!)
Entirely non-smoking!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Nashi-Japanese Pears at Ichikawa Garden in Iwata City”

Two generations of Japanese Pear growers: Takeshi and his parents, Toshiyuki and Kumiko Ichikawa/市川、利行、久美子さん!

Nashi/梨/called Japanese Pears, Nashi Pears or Sand Pears and many other names are the fruit of hot summers par excellence!
One has to bite into one of these crunchy and extremely juicy, and absolutely delicious, fruits once to understand why Nashi Pears are also venerated as the true fruits of life!

It was another blinding hot day again yesterday and I was certainly grateful for Takeshi San to come all the way to Toyoda Cho Station and then to take me all the way again to their fields and house!
The same fields are heavily protected by nets for all kinds of obvious natural reasons!

Housui Pears/豊水梨!

The Ichikawas mainly grow two varieties of nashi pear, Housui/豊水 and Kosui/辛水, the former ripening in August and September and the latter in full production right now.
Both are extremely juicy and tasty!

Hosui Pear, still comparatively small.

Kosui Pears/辛水梨!

The Kosui Pears are lighter in color wth a different skin pattern.

Growing nashi pears organically at sea level is practically impossible but all that grass proves that the Ichikiwas use only the strict minimum of pesticides! Actually, they have cut all ties with official “Agriculture Associations” so as to conduct the agriculture they think is right!

A lot of pears fall naturally and they will be included with other natural fertilizer to be mixed with the soil when they till the ground between the trees in winter.

I can assure you it is tough work to keep these orchards clean in their three locations for a total of 40 acres, what with typhoons and other unpredictable weather conditions!

For all the hard work harvesting lettuces in winter, corn in spring, pears in summer and rice in autumn, they never stop smiling!

The crop of the day!

A lot of manual and mechanical work involved!

Takeshi’s father started his orchards 30 years ago and gradually replacing all these trees takes time and care.
The above have a difference of more than 25 years! The old one is actually about to collapse!

The orchards have to be protected not only with nets against birds but also with electric wires against civets!

Takeshi san took me to another field where new trees had been planted 5 years ago and bore their first commercial crop!
A lot of investment is involved there!

These new branches will be bent down into a canopy at head level for better reach and control!

These are actually a new variety called nikkori/にっこり that matures as late as October!

You will not find the Ichikawas’ pears in any shop as they sell them only directly at their orchards or from personal order!
Even so they have a hard time satisfying all the demand. A proof of the extravagant quality!

Already all packed and ready to go!
Don’t worry, I managed to get mine!
Actually I can help you get them personally!

As any farmers worth their salt, the Ichikawas grow all kinds of vegetables for their own use and extra earnings!
I took a big batch of those beautiful okra back home!

To be continued…

ICHIKAWA GARDEN
Takeshi Ichikawa/Chouchou Farm
438-0804 Shizuoka Ken, Iwata Shi, Kamo, 200
静岡県磐田市加茂200
Tel/Fax: 0538-34-0629
Mobile: 080-1614-2271

Lettuce: October~April
Corn: June~July (May for greenhouse)
Japanese pears/nashi: August~September
Rice: Middle of September
Other vegetables (please call for more information!)
Private orders welcome!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Japanese Festivals: Mishima Taisha/三嶋大社

There are many interesting festivals in Shizuoka Prefecture and it is great fun as they offer a glimpse on true traditional Japan as well on a culture that will never fade away whatever the times.
Mishima Taisha Matsuri/三嶋退社祭/Mishima Shinto Temple Festival takes place during the third week of August (15th~17th this year) to coincide with the O-Bon Festival.
So I took a fast train this morning from Shizuoka City and got off at Mishima JR Station to enjoy the sights.
Follow, if you please!

True to say, as soon as I came out of the station, a parade had just entered the same street!

At 11:30 a.m. it was already blistering hot (over 30 degrees Celsius!) but the kids kept fanning the participants!

Tough work to pull that chariot along!

And playing music on top of it was even hotter!

I’m sure they could done better with the water of that well (a pun?)!

Volunteers at crossroads made sure everyone went the right way!

Mishima City is celebrated all over Japan for its eel restaurants dotting the streets!

Another one!

Another well for thirsty people!

The streets were lined with “yatai/屋台/stands well before the entrance to the Shrine!

These cold drinks should sell quickly!

Sakurabou/long pink light bread!

Shaved ice!

The torii/鳥居/gates for the birds. Such gates are the entrances of Shinto Shrines, never at those of Budhist Temples.

We know we are there!

Sake keg from Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City. Unfortunately there is no longer any sake brewery in Mishima City!

More stands inside the premises before the actual entrance to the Shrine. Fujinomiya City-style Yakisoba!

Yakitori!

The Park is worth visiting at any time of the year!

Goldfish catching!

A photographer’s paradise (a pun again?)?

The real entrance to a Shinto Shrine is marked with a “giant straw belt”!

A young girl going bananas? We haven’t passed through the entrance yet!

Fukutarou “Happiness” buns!

A secondary entrance through the wall surrounding the Shrine. The blazing sun was starting interfering with the photography!

Clean water is available to wash your hands before the entrance of any Shinto Shrine!

Next year is the Year of the Horse!

If the chrysanthemum of the “mon/seal” has 16 petals, the Shrine is part of the Japanese Emperor’s Cult!

What’s happening there? We’ll check later!

It is always worth it to nose around a large Shinto Shrine: Ikebana/生け花/Flowerarrangement!

Hidden gardens…

Portable fireworks!

Back to that event!

But let’s go around it first! What a blazing sun!

Impressive roofs!

Imperial “mon”!

This roof really looks like a helmet!

Your future for 200 yen (2.20 US$)!

The ladies selling at a Shrine stand/shop are supposed to be virgins…
Look at her headgear!

Knotting one’s wishes for the coming year…

Now, why are these three gentlemen dressed in Edo Era’s garb?

Those ancient clothes are certainly very elaborate!

I see! A (very solemn) tea ceremony!

The ancient shoes of the three gentlemen! Like their clothes, they must cost a fortune!

An illustrious unknown?

I walked across the other side of the gardens surrounding the Shrine on my way back to discover more stands. Japanese karaage/deep-fried chicken! Certainly better than those of that fake army officer!

Charcoal-grilled ayu trouts!

Cute young girls in yukata/summer kimono waiting for their yakisoba!

Such trees at Shinto Shrines are venerated as symbols of virility and fertility!

Now, I fancy these yakitori!

There are plenty of secondary shrines on the premises near waterways and small bridges!

There was another parade chariot at the side entrance with some good percussion music!

But the old guy was already probably thinking about all the Japanese sake sitting beside him!

Now, getting this chariot was sheer brutal work in that heat! It took them three tries before they could manage inching forward!

Walking around the park back to the station is also worth the effort!

Beautiful water running down from nearby Mount Fuji!

The wild ducks certainly love it!

A small bridge turned into a personal garden!

Plenty of clean water to safely play in!

Young ladies certainly welcomed the fresh water!

Whole families were thus escaping from the heat!

i could have stayed hours in such surroundings!

In Japan, always keep a look for English signs!
I know that the Japanese are probably the longest living people in the World but I still wonder…

Back at the station, all these lanterns announced the Festival. Pity I couldn’t stay still night!

There was even an on-going Japanese drum concert by a whole host of teams!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Homare Fuji Sake Rice Fields Visit with Mr. Yuuji Miyata

Mr. Yuuji Miyata!

13 years ago, some enlightened individuals realized that Shizuoka Prefecture would have to produce its own sake rice, at least a part of it, for many reasons even if some of them are pointedly ignored by many…
First, the culture of sake rice (as opposite to that of edible rice) is a risky venture financially and a steady supply is fraught with unseen complications. Moreover, most of brewers outside the main sake rice producing areas have to “import” their rice from Hyogo, Hiroshima, Iwate, Niigata and other faraway Prefectures.
Moreover, whatever some brewers might tell you when questioned in front of witnesses, the quality of such imported rice cannot be fully insured.

Mr. Muramatsu’s Homare Fuji paddies (30 acres) in Naka Shinden, Yaizu City.

The only solution is to try and grow your own sake rice locally!
In 1998, under the auspices of the JA research was initiated on the culture of the Yamada Nishiki Sake Rice strain, considered as the best by many, in the Iwata Agricultural Research Center.
7 years later, 1n 2005, the cultivation was started in earnest in privately-owned fields under the guidance of such specialists such Mr. Miyata.

The rice stalks grow a lot thicker and nearer to each other than normal rice.

The Yaizu Sake Rice Research Association grouping 15 farmers grows more than 60% of this Yamada Nishiki Sake Rice under the name of Homare Fuji Sake Rice. Actually the same Association grows Homare Fuji Rice on 10.3 ha, Yamada Nishiki Rice on 5.6ha and Gohyakumangoku Rice on on 4.7 ha.
Homare Fuji Rice is presently grown by 31 farmers in 7 distinct areas across the whole Prefecture.
Moreover, 20 out 28 breweries presently produce some of their sake with Homare Fuji Sake Rice up to Junmai Ginjyou level.

Mr. Yuuji Miyata with Mr. Hiromi Ikegaya of the JA Ooigawa

It has become serious business as from this year the Yaizu JA Agricultural Association (governmental) will assume the responsibility for the sales of Homare Fuji Sake Rice grown in the Yaizu City area!

The personal help of Mr. Ryohei Miyake of the Shizuoka Prefecture Shida Haibara Agriculture & Forestry Bureau was certainly welcome to deal with all these farmers and JA representatives!
Messrs. Miyake and Miyata were kind enough to pick me up at Fujieda Station and take care of me for the whole day!
They took me to 3 different paddies including that of Mr. Muramatsu mentioned above and introduced me to the JA Ooigawa Representative and other personalities of the business!

In every paddy Mr. Miyata took out a rice stalk to painstakingly open it with his nails to show me the grains already developed inside and to tell me thus exactly when the rice would appear and would be harvested by the day!

The second paddy was that of Mr. Matsumura (20 acres), Higashi Mashizu, Yaizu City, where planting and harvesting events are regularly held!

Homare Fuji Sake Rice has two big qualities:
its stalks are shorter and harder and will not break under heavy winds, even those of typhoons. Moreover, their rice contains a lot less proteins than others, which allows for an exceptional maturing of sake!

Yaizu soil is of two types whether the fields are on the former bed of Ooigawa River with a high concentration of sand like the above-mentioned two paddies or of a clay type if closer to the mountains. Naturally the soil quality has to be taken in account for each paddy!

The Homare Fuji Rice stalks are comparatively short (25 cm shorter that those of Yamada Nishiki) , but the proportion of the leaves and bottom stalks (“saya”) are longer and the very foot (“fushi”) shorter and thicker.

The third paddy I was taken to is the “heart of the Homare Fuji Sake Rice” as Mr. Toshirhiro Umehara has taken charge of growing the rice for the grains only to be re-planted elsewhere for the last 3 years!

This 30-acre paddy is located in Hirajima in Fujieda City!

The grains will appear in about 10 days and the rice will be harvested in October!

This is rural Japan!

The men behind our regional sake, Mr. Yuuji Miyata and Mr. Toshihiro Umehara!

This is what is going to grow into full-fledged rice thanks to these farmers and later become the nectar of Japan (and Shizuoka Prefecture) thanks to our brewers!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka Agriculture: Akihiro Matsushita: Organic Sake Rice Grower in Fujieda City!

Akihiro Matsushita/松下明弘, Yuuji Miyata/宮田祐二 and Densaburou Aoshima/青島傳三郎!

Akihiro Matsushita is a true pioneer!
No less than 17 years ago he decided to grow all his rice organically, a revolution at the time that did not please many people in the very closed world of Japanese farming!
Fortunately things have changed since then…

15 years ago Akihiro contacted Densaburou (Sake Brewmaster’s name) Aoshima of Aoshima Sake Brewery in Fujieda City to aks him if he would be interested in creating sake with truly organic rice. Densaburou is also a true pioneer in his own closed Japanese sake world who gladly accepted the challenge.
And it certainly was a challenge!

Aoshima Brewery in Fujieda City! Kikuyoi/喜久酔 is their main brand name!

I’ve known Densaburou for quite some time now, and the fact he speaks fluent English does help when I introduce him to foreign fans of his nectars!

Yuuji Miyata/宮田祐二, Ryohei Miyake/三宅良平 and Densaburou Aoshima/青島傳三郎
Whatever the occasion, this is Japan, and nothing will start before business cards have been exchanged!

The fact I know quite a lot of people in the Japanese sake world in Shizuoka Prefecture even helps with my Japanese friends and colleagues.
Before meeting Akihiro Matsushita in his farm, Yuuji Miyamata, the man in charge of the development of Homare Fuji Sake Rice in Yaizu City and Ryohei Miyake, an official from the Shida Haibara Agriculture and Forestry Bureau joined me to visit Densaburou at his brewery as we were all going together to Akihiro’s place. Densaburou does not use the Homare Fuji Sake Rice in his brews but he entertains warm relations with all people concerned with the sake business in his region.

Akihiro is a shy gentleman who will nonetheless quickly open and talk passionately about his trade.
And you certainly need to be passionate and extremely knowledgeable to convince people in one of the most conservative regions of Japan!

Keeping his own fields separated from non-organic growers is no longer a problem, but it was open conflict when he started his venture. He does not remember how many times he had to clean his own fields of mountains of rubbish thrown into them during the night…
But since then Akihiro has been recognized and accepted as a true grower as amply proved by his JAS Organic Grower Recognition and his Shida EM Organic Agriculture Association Chairmanship!

Not only his fields, but surrounding areas have to be kept clean of any chemicals and unwanted materials.
Even so, rice growing within a few meters of the perimeter of his fields will not be sold or used!

Yamada Nishiki, the most famous sake rice variety in Japan! The grains will appear end of August!
The soil being part of the Ooigawa River bed is sandy. The same sand is river sand formed by the constant rubbing of stones.

A single look at the water and soil will tell you this is organic environment with all these bugs and snails!
Akihiro and Densaburou had once thought of ducks to keep their fields clean of bugs. Unfortunately the local stray cats put an end to the trials!

Although Mr. Miyata’s field is not concerned with Yamada Nishiki Sake Rice, his expertise is always welcome!

Akihiro’s fields of organic sake rice and those or normal edible organic rice occupy a lot of land here and there. I asked him if he would be interested in exporting some. He replied that he wouldn’t have enough land to do so! An unequivocal proof of his peers’ and customers’ recognition!

Everyone soon forgot me so passionate their discussions had become!

For all his extremely busy life, Akihiro still finds enough time for constant research: organic black rice!

This passion and thirst for new solutions just proves that Japan and its people, for all the cataclysms that regularly visit them, might bend now and again but will never break like the stalks of their rice!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

The Hidden Gems of Japan!