[MIYOSHI JIN] The Tokushima Yuzu from the Sky – Vol. 1: The View from a Farm Bench with Hiroshi Nakamura
Cresting the top of a winding mountain road, what comes into view but a true orchard in the sky. Here we learn more about Nakamura Farm, as operated by Hiroshi Nakamura, where he works in a truly wonderful part of Japan harvesting Tokushima Yuzu from the Sky.
Hiroshi Nakamura once worked at Miyoshi City Hall, but two years ago, he inherited the yuzu orchard his parents operated. Up until that point, while living in Miyoshi, he had witnessed the aging of agricultural workers, and had seen the numbers of farmers declining even though they were cultivating such amazing crops. He wasn’t thinking about taking over his parents’ farm until one day when he walked into the orchard and just suddenly made the decision to do it.
“There’s a bench in the best spot in the orchard. From there, you can see the mountains of Shikoku and the yuzu trees that seem to float up into the sky. That’s the scenery my parents used to look out at. Most yuzu orchards don’t have this kind of view. Our yuzu grow big looking out at this landscape. I never really thought about it before, but one day, I realized that it really is unique.” Nakamura says.
The yuzu orchard at Nakamura Farm sits on a piece of inclined land facing east. The area gets the perfect amount of sunlight, experiences a large temperature variation between day and night, and has well-drained soil – all of which make the conditions perfect for yuzu farming. However, those same conditions make it a difficult environment to work in when harvesting and transporting the fruit.
This unique method of farming is called the Nishi-Awa Steep Slope Land Agriculture System, and it has been recognized as a globally important agricultural heritage system by the United Nations. The yuzu fruit and fruit products produced by Nakamura Farm are brand certified under that system name.
Before Nakamura got involved in yuzu farming, Nakamura Farm was only sending its produce to the local agricultural cooperative, but Nakamura took things into his own hands and began looking for new places where his products could be sold. He also diversified product lineup. Whereas before, they only sold fruit, they developed new processed products like bottled fruit juice, jellied fruit, and more. He is also actively looking into new product development to find a way to make effective use of yuzu skin – normally a waste product.
Nakamura hopes that more people will get the chance to taste the yuzu that grow in such a unique landscape – the Tokushima Yuzu in the Sky.
Nakamura Farm products are currently available at Miyoshi’s community exchange facilities such as Manabe-ya and Hashikura Tocoton, and other locations around the city. Pick some up and enjoy the flavors.
Continue to Vol. 2.
Nakamura Farm website: https://www.nakamurafarm.com/
(Interview and article: Tatsuya Ogake)