The first plot as it has been for the last 15?20? years!
September 22nd 2013
I have just started helping a friend of mine, Asami Itoh/伊東麻美さん, the youngish (gentlemen, she is still eligible!) president and owner of Marufuku Tea Factory and CHA-O Tea Processing Company, with a project up in the mountains in Umegashima, Shizuoka City.
She wants to start the cultivation of organic herbs in particular in view to blend them later with her company’s organic tea for a more extensive market research.
Her father had bought land a long time ago at the altitude of 1.000 meters where he buit a house I have previously described in a recent article about organic Japanese plums.
It takes a good hour by car to reach the spot at 1,000 meters at the very end of the road where you are greeted by a minuscule Shinto Shrine.
The sign says “1,000 meters, the highest tea fields in Japan!”
The red color is arguably the most used color for Shinto Shrines which are found in far more places than Budhist Temples especially in rural Japan!
This “Torii/鳥居/Bird Gate”, for all its small size is remarkable for the fact that the top beam was made with the bottom part of a tree to show a pointed horn at its tip! Very rare actually! The whole portal was created by with logs sawed by the small log company just a few meters away!
for the people interested with such facts, the name of the shrine is called “Inari Dai Myoujin/稲荷大明神”!
“Inari” is also the name of a sushi. Can you guess why? “Ina” means “rice” and it was offered inside rice straw balls at such shrines to pray for bountiful crops whose shape has been copied to make inari sushi!
This very spot is heavens for photography buffs!
From there it is precipitous walk down a narrow mountain lane or along a rail if you want to carry down/up heavy baggage. The city has finally decided to build a winding road down to Itoh’s house and a couple a farms on higher ground. The problem is that during the works which mike take as long as 3 years we will have to come down another more circuitous route….
A lot inquiries for rent regularly reach Asami who is certainly not interested.
There is still a lot of work and cleaning inside although the toilets, bathroom and kitchen are working. Next year will see a lot of trash being taking away. Very hard work in prospect!
The “field” in front of the house.
This is work for next year as we concentrate on the plot just in front of the house for the moment.
The field actually comprises all the organic Japanese plum trees we harvest very year to make umeshu, umeboshi and other preserves.
The field is full of fern these days, but these can be harvested in late spring as “warabi/蕨市/bracken, brake or common bracken, also known as “eagle fern”, a very popular mountain vegetables in Japan.
Asami already has to contend with wild monkeys, boars, deer, civets and even bears, but she discovered that people came regularly every year to steal those warabi. Picking some for your consumption is not much of a problem and she would welcome such unauthorized visitors, but the “thieves” go away with full crops! Don’t be surprised if some local supermarkets cannot tell you the origin of their warabi!
Talking of the animals (including humans?) we will have to erect light net fences during the winter to protect the japanese plum trees we will also have to prune (no pun intended!). We are also thinking of othe mountain vegetables crops for that field, too, but we will have to provide it some extra soil first!
But first we have to deal with that 8 m2 plot (maybe small but perfect for research and trials) left unattended for the last 20 years.
At least the whole property has seen any agrichemicals or pesticides for the same period of time!
I had to use the available traditional tools to dig up the deep-rooted grass and weeds.
We will come with more modern utensils in 2 weeks time!
The temperature is still around 30 degrees even now and I can tell you this slow sweaty hard work! The soil being very dry does not make the digging up any easier!
During that time Asami was ridding the field barbecue from weeds, ants and what else, not to mention all the bricks inside and and outside had to be taken out for better access and cleaning. I hard a time convincing her not to break the whole contraption!
It was certainly worth it!
Done at last!
Asami plans to grow mint, thyme, lemon balm, lemon grass and basil among other herbs but this will have to wait until early spring.
First I will have to sift the stones out of the soil in two weeks’ time (we plan to visit the place every two weeks at the beginning, which is sufficient providing that the fields are protected with netting).
Next in 4 weeks time I will mix in organic red soil, organic lime, organic fertilizer and oragnic vegtable/herb soil, cover the whole with a tarp and leave it ferment for the whole winter!
It is already starting to look better!
See you again there in two weeks time!
We hope to bring along a friend or two next time to help with the work and to share a couple beers (Asami does not drink and she doesn’t mind driving us around!)!
Marufuku Tea Factory (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu, Cho, 25
CHA-O (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 94
Itoh Organic Project
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Umegashina, Higashi Mine (Do not send letters yet as there is no post box!)
RECOMMENDED LINKS FOR ROOF GARDENING
Containerized: My Garden Blog
Gardens by Mike Palmer (Dorchester, England)
Best New York Gardening Blogs
Battery Rooftop Garden Blog (UK)
Green Roof Growers (Chicago)
Mitsukoshi Roof Top Garden – Ginza by Tokyobling’s Blog
The Tattooed Gardener
Town and Country Gardening
My Botanical Garden by Tamara
My Food and Flowers
Vienna Roof Garden
Leaf and Twig
Ekostories by Jack Yuen
My Food And Flowers
Photography Art Plus
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES
Shop with Intent by Debbie
BULA KANA in Fiji
Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 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, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, 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: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents
HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City