Tag Archives: Abe River

Organic Tea: Honyama Tea by Bunji Itoh at Marufuku Tea Co. Ltd.

Mr. Bunji Itoh/伊藤文治 in his fields in Hirano/平野, Shizuoka City

“Organic Tea will become a new norm within the next 10 years.”
Organic tea is still rare in Shizuoka Prefecture which produces no less than 45% of the total tea crop in Japan.
The Prefecture counts many famous brands, one of which is Honyama/本山 grown along the Abe/安部 and Warashina/藁科 Rivers across Shizuoka city up to the Japan Southern Alps.

Entrance sign in front of Bunji Itoh’s registered organic tea fields in Hirano

Bunji Itoh is the 3rd generation of a tea growing family and the 2nd generation at their company, Marufuku Tea Co. Ltd./丸福製茶株式会社.
10 years ago he pioneered organic tea in one of his tea fields in Hirano, up the Abe River near Utougi/有東木, the birthplace of wasabi.
Last year the Shizuoka Prefecture decided to promote its tea in Europe and Bunji Itoh was awarded an Official Organic Tea Recognition Licence in Germany for two kinds of organic tea!

So the other saw a real expedition of ours ride all the way to his fields located at almost 1,000 meters height!
The members of our expedition were (on the picture not featuring me):
Aya Itoh/伊藤彩, his younger daughter, Asami Itoh/伊藤麻実 his older daughter who, besides helping her father, runs her own business at Saiko Chyaen/彩香茶園, Mr. Bunji Itoh/伊藤文治 himself, Mr. Chaminda Jayawardana, a Sri Lankan Tea Merchant and Grower at Lumbini Tea Factory (PVT) Ltd. who had come at the International Tea Event held in Granship, Shizuoka City and who had been invited to join us all by my friend Nahoko Imai/今井奈保子, owner of Teebom Co..
Interestingly enough, except for Mr. Itoh, everyone was fluent in English!

It was actually a great drive along the Abe River and along the wasabi fields!

You quickly understood that the culture was organic as the lane sanking between the tea trees was covered with very healthy moss!

Mr. Itoh grows two kinds of organic tea, Yabukita/やぶきた which is cultivated from grafts and Zairai/在来種 which is grown form the seeds.
The whole area covers 60 ha at high altitude at foot of the Japan Southern Alps.

Stupendous vista from the same fields.
These are not clouds but mist, a major reason for the quality of the tea.

Flowers could be seen (they are of the same family as the camelias) blossoming from the base of the trees.
Chaminda remarked that they would never let them grow back in Sri Lanka where leaves are basically picked all year round, whereas here in Shizuoka they are picked only four times a year.

The area is replete with streams and falls providing clear and pure water not only to keep the fields wet but also to keep the insects away (the trees are watered three times a week to make all insects drop to the ground where they will become organic fertilizer!).
As for fertilizer, Mr. Itoh utilizes only organic matter, mainly composed of grass mowed on abandoned golf courses and let to ferment for three years before being spread between the trees.

There are plenty of damage on the leaves proving that the culture is organic!
The above picture shows downy mildew/炭素病.

Blister Blight/ブリスタ・ブライト.

For a closer view.

Fungi/カビ.

All these problems have to be taken care of in a natural manner.
No wonder a lot of farmers opt for the easy way.
But although Mr. Itoh grows other tea with a minimum of pesticides and artificial fertilizer, he believes he is on the right path with organic tea!

On our way back to Marufuku Tea Co. Ltd. in Wakamatu/若松 in Shizuoka City (see above sign),

we spent a long time observing the manufacture of tea,

and sampling it.
But as I need another visit to properly report on the manufacture it will have to wait until the next article!

Marufuku Seishya Co. Ltd. (Mr. Bunji Itoh)
Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 25
Tel.: 054-271-2011
Fax: 054-271-2010

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, 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

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Egg Farm in Shizuoka City: Bi-Ou-Ran (Part 1)

Eggs do come in many shapes, don’t they?

The Japanese have always eaten of lot of eggs. Not so long ago, in the Edo period,they were even considered as a rare delicacy.
Since then, with the abundance of high quality eggs the Japanese have turned this supposedly simple farm product into many world-known delicacies: tamagoyaki, dateyaki, oyakodon, onsen tamago and so on.
On the other hand the same Japanese have increasingly become more exigent and precise about their eggs, requesting for better shape, color and quality.

Bi-Ou-Ran sign

For a long time I have been intrigued by the above sign I regularly passed along during my bicycle trips to Miwa along the Abe River in Shizuoka City.
After some belated enquiries, I found out that the eggs produced by Bi-Ou-Ran/美黄卵/Beautiful Yellow Eggs Farm are not only top-class in this country, but that they have also been awarded a brand name/controlled appellation by the Japanese Government!

An investigation was long due!
After lunch yesterday I took the bicycle and first rode to their small shop (a lot of their eggs are directly distributed all over the country from their farm) up in Miwa (a good 30 minutes ride from my work place).
A small shop it is, but interestingly enough you can buy eggs there through a vending machine almost all day long (that is until everything has disappeared in spite of being re-filled regularly).

A look at the praise received in many neswpapers and TV interviews.

Beautiful eggs inside the vending machine!
Sakura Mixed batch: 300 yen for 12
Sakura Small: 300 yen for 12
Sakura Large: 300 yen for 11
Red Treasure Medium: 300 yen for 11
Red Treasure Large: 300 yen for 10

Onsen tamago: Eggs slowly cooked into running yolk soft-boiled eggs. A delicacy!

Eggs waiting to go!

Home-made chiffon cakes on sale!

Very eclectic: they also sell fresh products from neighbors’ gardens!

From the left bank of Abe River in Ashikubo District.

People/employees at the shop were very kind. They put me through to the farm where Mr. Shimizu and employees are raising their chicken.
Interviewing on that very day was not possible. Wrong time! They were busy at something I couldn’t catch on the phone.
Nevertheless, Mr. Shimizu, who didn’t seem to understand much of what I was trying to tell me agreed on an interview at the farm tomorrow, Staurday, at 13:30!

Their farm is still a 10 more minutes ride up river.
Knowing myself and having some time on hand, I decided to find the farm as directions were a bit scant.
Even knowing the address is not much help in the country where almost nothing is indicated.
At least the Ashikubo River was easy to find.
That did not prevent me from venturing onto the wrong bank of the river!

But riding a bicycle has an enormous advantage: it does not matter how many times you get lost, you will eventually find your way around, whereas by car would tax any driver heavily!
As I said I took the wrong (larger) road.
So I turned back and enetered th very narrow road along the left bank of Ashikubo River.
I can’t miss it on Saturday thanks to the little red Shinto Gate (Torii) at its entrance!

Neither wide nor long, the Ashikubo River is renown for for its great water coming down the nearby mountain slpes all year round. The Abe River might get completely dry, but not this little river.
Even now, many local Sake Breweries come here to collect water in large tanks!
No wonder that the farm has chosen this location. A constant supply of water ought to be vital!

Still a long way to ride. Two cars would be in real difficulty if they happened to meet halfway.

I finally reached my destination, although I didn’t know for sure at first!
No sign at the entrance, and no clue of how such a farm should look like from the outside.
But the fact I was born in farmland did help me as I noticed some silos obviously used to store feed.
But I couldn’t see any bird in spite of the imposing size of the farming complex.
Bear in imd I was in the middle of nature without a homestead within sight (that is on the left bank).

The heat was a scorching 35 degrees by then and I wondered how chicken scould be kept inside. But,… I also noticed large ventilators here and there. I couldn’t be wrong (if I were I was in for a long frustrating search!)!

Since the appointment was not not for that particular day and knowing people working there were very busy, I rode a few seconds on until I found a side entrance,… and heard the unmistakable sound of chicken amid the roaring of the giant ventilators!

I certainly felt relieved knowing it would be a faster ride thanks to my little investigation next Saturday!
An employee did notice me and came to me without being asked to check if I was looking for something or somebody. I explained (after a polite greetings and taking off my shades) that I would come on Saturday and was just checking my way.
-“I see! See you, then!”

Bi-Ou-Ran
Shimizu Chicken Farm
421-2112, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Endo Shinden, 41-3
Tel.: 054-296-0064

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, 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 Traditional Local Festivals: 5th Annual Miwa Cherry Blossoms Festival in Shizuoka City!

Recent times have seen a revival of local festivals in Japan, especially in the rural areas, probably because people wanted to forget the sluggish economy and come back to more basic social gatherings after long years spent away in dehumanizing cities.
My good friend Neil had mentioned that his neighborhood in Miwa was organizing their 5th Annual Sakura Festival yesterday so I rode my bicycle for a good 45 minutes from home till the other side of the Abe River in Shizuoka City!

I left my bicycle at Neil’s place and walked till the Miwa Primary School where I found this banner announcing the Cherry Blossoms Festival!

For once that the weather was fine I walked on the causeway along the Abe River.

It is still winter and the water was pretty dry in all senses of the word!

I finally espied the site!

The Festival has been scheduled on the 3rd Sunday of February whatever the conditions or weather.
Unfortunately the last three weeks have witnessed unseasonal cold and the early-blooming Kawazu Cherry Trees had not blossomed yet!

For a closer view!

On the other hand the Japanese plum trees were still very much in flowers!

And the kumquats were everywhere for a picking!

We are full in leek season! Great to fight colds!

Plenty of beautiful colors to be found in private gardens!

But someone had made sure we had some cherry blossoms on site!

Neil had been designated as the sound engineer of the event!

You can’t have a festival in Japan without drums!

I wonder what those fox masks are for!

Robust ladies!

Oranges and tea on sale!
Notice the “dustbins”!

The site was small but certainly crowded!

Local bonsai on sale!

Local farmers selling their produce!

What are they preparing here?

Tonjiru soup for free!
Very thoughtful of the organizers!

Ashikubo Green Tea!

Sweet dango/balls!

Boxed lunches and wagashi cakes!

Chirashizushi bento!
All bentos are really home-made before put on sale!

Okonomiyaki!

Grilled sausages!

Deep-fried sweetmeat buns!

Yakisoba!

Candy Floss!

Grilled mochi cakes!

Local Benihoppe strawberries!

Home-made umeboshi!

They even had a small flea market!

Oden!

Dorayaki!

Very traditional dance!

Another very traditional dance!

And very traditional drinking!
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Francescannotwrite, 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