Thank you for your continued patronage of “Hitosaji” and Miyazakien.
We decided to close our teahouse “Hitosaji” temporarily as requested until May 6 (Wednesday) because Aichi Prefecture government required “a facility with a high risk of infection and a high possibility of causing the spread of infection” close as part of “the new coronavirus infection Aichi Prefecture-Emergency Measures” yesterday, April 17th.
“Hitosaji” will be closed from April 17 to May 6. Although coffee shop is not subject to a request for closure, “Hitosaji” is a space where customers spend time for a long time, sit close to each other to taste foods and drinks, it is a relatively small place, the interior structure of the “Hitosaji” is complicated because it is an old private house, and so that it is difficult to take measures such as finding a person with a fever or restricting entrance. So we decided to close it for protecting our customers.
As mentioned above, the resumption is scheduled for May 6th, which is the deadline for the declaration of an emergency, but the response may change depending on the situation.
The store department of Miyazakien that sells tea products will continue to operate.
We appreciate your understanding and support.
Friday, April 17, 2020
Atsushi Umemura, 6th tea master at Miyazakien
and Miyazakien staff
Finally, in Aichi Prefecture, the local governor has issued an emergency declaration for the new type of coronavirus infection yesterday. How are you all going as the tense atmosphere spreads out.
Miyazakien has been working on tea plantations, cafe shop and the retail store because the declaration states that businesses that require business continuity include food and beverage supply and coffee shops. We are also continuing to refurbish our stores to comply with HACCP, which has become mandatory under the revision of the Japanese Food Sanitation Law. Doors of the retail shop is widely open to improve ventilation while we are open the shop. But door to enter and exit the cafe section was said to be an automatic door in order to comply with HACCP, so now it is under construction.
We feel that the movement of people has been reduced in various scenes even in the old Nukata-cho in a mountainous area. The bus for Motojuku Station, which came from the Kuragari valley yesterday afternoon, has no passengers until Miyazaki Elementary School bus stop. The number of cars and traffic is further reduced, and the only sounds that can be heard in the store except for door construction are the sounds of the surrounding nature.
The tea trees that had been pruned last week have not had much buds yet.
Maybe it’s because the temperature was low on many days for the first buds came out. The cherry blossoms at Miyazaki Elementary School have been almost in full bloom for a week. In the usual school year, it is a busy period with the new semester, but this year the gate is closed, and under the blue clear sky, not only the children but the school equipments are quietly waiting for the back to school term.
We have welcomed another season for preparing new tea. The crop of our tea garden in the Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture are later prepared than the large major tea production areas of Kyushu Miyazaki and Shizuoka in Japan.
Now, in the tea plantations of Miyazaki Garden, the cherry blossoms blossom around and the voice of the Uguisu echoes, we are working for the new tea crop in a most pleasant season.
The process of cutting off tea leafs is a preparation to remove the old leaves remaining in the tea plant so that new leafs can emerge at once. It also means that old leaves are not mixed during harvesting.
The tea tree grow in spring rapidly. Following picture shows there are so many branches and leaves even near Miyazakien,
Each garden has a style of tea plantation in different way for tailoring and cutting. There are really many ways. So it does not matter which one is good or bad exactly. On the same day, in the same area, under the same sunshine conditions, you may find such a different image.
Following picture is shot at another tea plantation in Miyazakien. The black screens are ready to use for blackouting. It looks like just after haircut and refreshing.
In the case of Miyazakien, the dropped leaves are circulated as fertilizer. Not only cut leaves but also fertilizers fermented mainly with rice bran, tea trees are carefully grown using traditional farming methods. Our agriculture is based on land that does not use chemical fertilizers, so it can be sustained.
Oh, something is moving over there …
My dog Ace was happy to eat rice bran fertilizer. A rice bran for a dog? ? It is a little strange, but it tasted deliciously. So she stuck it all over her face and even her tongue.
Metropolitan areas in Japan, such as Tokyo and Osaka, will have a difficult life in the future due to infectious disease control. Many events of various places that go out for sale in the normal year before the new tea season are canceled one after another from about February, and tea making is proceeding quietly as usual in the old Nukata town in the local and mountainous area.
Opportunities to go outside have decreased, and in March we discussed how to manage Miyazakien. We want to let lot of more people know about the taste of tea brewed from leaves, and want to continue the tea making of Okazaki City and Former Nukata Town since the Edo period. We have a lot to do. However, there is a limit to what we can do with a small tea garden and a small number of people. This year we have been working on tea making (from harvesting leaves to producing crude tea) as usual, but apart from that, we may work anew.
When farming work such as harvesting is in full swing, we will have a morning and evening meeting every day. Until now, we have worked with many people who have been helping our family for many years and thought that it would be possible to talk without talking. But we have to change our mind. In the morning, sharing the plan of the day and having them work independently, in the evening, grasping their progress and making a plan for the next day together, so this way of movement is more efficient Looks good.
We are planning about new tea products. Miyazakien, which has a strong image of a tea supplier, is also a tea farmer. In particular, customers who like tea visiting the Miyazakien’s store also like for our green tea and processed other tea black tea, Wa Kocha, roasted green tea, Hojicha. At Miyazakien, we are working on a new approach to the green tea, Sencha, and the roasted tea, Hojicha, starting with this season’s tea. Details will be announced at a later date.
This year, we will participate in the Okazaki Shaved Ice Road, an event led by the Nukakata Chamber of Commerce. Miyazakien begins it in mid-June when the new tea cultivating and processing is over. There is also a new product in this event.
We would like to expand the fields managed by Miyazakien on a yearly basis and increase the supply of tea at Miyazakien. We want to expand the management area of tea plantations, mainly in the former Nukata-cho and Miyazaki districts. We would be grateful if you would like to speak out to those who are having trouble managing the tea plantations that are becoming abandoned arable land.
As usual, some of the processing equipment was replaced and repaired before the cutting off. Our stores are changing its style by hands little by little. In the tea plantation, the curtain will begin shortly after the pruning is over. Everyone waiting for our new tea, please wait for a while.
Atsushi Umemura, the representative of Miyazakien, awarded the Chunichi Agriculture Prize Excellence Award hosted by the Japanese one of most quality news paper company, Chunichi Shimbun. In the last year of Heisei, it was the only recipient from Aichi Prefecture. We are very happy and proud of it. The award was published in the morning edition of the Chunichi Shimbun on the following day. Thank you to everyone involved.
The Chunichi Agriculture Prize has been awarded to young farmers working on new agriculture and regional development in the nine central prefectures (Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Shizuoka, Nagano, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Shiga) in Japan since 1940 (Showa 15). It is a historical award established by Chunichi Shimbun. Currently, it has been selected for young farmers because of the aging population and a shortage of successors.
At Miyazakien, in order to revive the tea industry in the Miyazaki area of Okazaki City (formerly Nukata-cho), which was once said to be a nationwide famous tea production area, tea making with organic pesticide-free cultivation (JAS certification) and domestic tea. In addition to working on the cultivation, processing, and sales of “wakocha,” the Japanese black tea, we have also actively challenged the development of overseas sales channels. Both are at the very beginning of a long journey just getting started, but it’s an honor to be chosen for this traditional award. We are also very impressed by mentioning to our 4th representative Akiji in the certificate. Atsushi is a young person, but we will continue to make efforts to promote this mountain village Miyazaki-cho in the Okazaki city through agriculture.
We have obtained the consent to translate the article and post it on this site.
Eat and rest well in the Aichi Highlands – 愛知高原でよく食べて，よく休んで
After a detox holiday in the countryside here, Aichikogen-Okumikawa, you’ll return feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Must-eats in Aichikogen-Okumikawa – あいち高原/奥三河で見逃せない食
Symbolic rice and miso come together as one in gohei-mochi; remember to try the region’s signature ayu fish too.
In Japanese cuisine, rice is more than a meal staple. Cultivated in Japan for 2,000 years, the grain also has much financial, historical and cultural significance. In the past, rice was used as a currency (or as tax money for farmers). Today, Japan’s most important crop isn’t only eaten during meals; it is used in a myriad products, from sakes to vinegars.
It’s no wonder that there’s the Otaue Matsuri or “rice field planting festival”. Celebrated in spring to mark the start of a new year, this sees the Japanese praying for a successful harvest. In some versions of the festival, seeds are planted in fields while in others, the planting process is acted out. Then, when autumn arrives, harvest festivals are held to give thanks, too.
Japanese rice, a short translucent grain that turns sticky when cooked, is grown in the country’s valleys, terraces and fields, with terraced rice plantations being one of the rarer sights. The Yotsuya Senmaida fields in Aichi Prefecture is famous for having more than 1,000 “steps” and produces the grains for some of the region’s signature rice cakes or gohei-mochi.
If you do visit Aichikogen-Okumikawa, have this as your main meal or as a snack. Resembling a big lollipop, this rice cake is grilled on a skewer and glazed with sesame or miso paste, or even topped with crushed walnuts. One of the traditional shops serving this is Matsuya, which has been around since 1935 and sells
grilled ayu fish skewers
grilled ayu fish skewers
300 gohei-mochi every day on weekends. Owner Yachie Maruyama pounds the rice by hand, uses a secret recipe for her miso paste and grills the cakes over a charcoal fire.
Miso paste is another example of a Japanese diet staple. Once reserved for nobles and monks, miso, which has health benefits like preventing gastric disorders and lowering blood pressure, is made from fermented soybeans. It is now most commonly used in soups that are best paired with steaming hot Japanese rice for a simple yet comforting meal, or on gohei-mochi as a sweet, robust seasoning.
Besides miso-paste gohei-mochi, Aichikogen-Okumikawa is known for the freshwater ayu fish, which can be eaten at restaurants like Chiyohimeso. A skewer is pierced into the fish mouth and through its body before it is cooked over charcoal. Although ayu fish can be stewed in soya sauce and sugar, the locals like it best grilled in its own deliciously briny oils. We can’t agree more. –>
Meet the Game Changers ゲームチェンジャーに会う
Atsushi Umemura, Miyazakien 宮ザキ園 梅村篤志
This dapper 39-year-old looks nothing like a traditional tea farmer. Not surprising since Umemura, the sixth-generation owner of the Miyazakien tea house that has been around since 1820, wants to modernise the art of tea drinking .
How different is Miyazakien from other tea businesses in Japan? 宮ザキ園は日本国内の他の茶園とどのように違うのか。
We are unusual in how we see through the entire process, from processing the tea to selling the leaves wholesale and even serving tea on our premises. In 2006, we also became the first organic tea farm in Aichi Prefecture.
How do you attract new customers? どのように新しい顧客を開拓されていますか？
As a wholesaler, we usually supply our products to businesses elsewhere but I want people to come visit us directly instead. So, on the second level of our teahouse, we conduct experiential workshops like flower arrangement lessons.
How else are you modernising your tea business? その他に変えてきた点は？
As a wholesaler, we can’t really change the style of our tea products too much. So, we try and serve tea in different new ways. For example, we sell houjicha flavoured shaved ice. This attracts long queues of customers, and we can sell about 100 bowls in a day. But with the shaved ice, we serve tea too, so customers can taste it and be encouraged to purchase our tea leaves. We also experiment with different ways of drinking tea: serving green tea in teacups with ice chips or in a wine decanter-inspired bottle and in wine glasses.
The “Okazaki Kakigori Kaido” is an event that some restaurant in Okazaki city participate. This year we are planning to roll out full-scale deployment from 2019 with the position as pre event. Miyazakien has brought out shaved ice of Matcha – Japanese green tea matcha, Hojicha – roasted Japanese green tea and Wakocha – Japanese black tea taste on the shaved ice . These tea is organic, cultivated in our organic field, and has been processed under control of Miyazakien which has over 100 years for tea business. Miyazakien got the opportunity to participate in this shaved ice event, remodeling the store, making a place where it was a warehouse until then, to make a shaving ice or an eat-in space where you can eat the delicious shaved ice with nice country side panorama.
Securing of shops, signboard making, delicious water (Kanzui; water of very valuable ultra soft water to be a raw material of the ice), ice manufacturing special ice (An old historic company helps us to make ice taking long-term to chill water and to make ice with high transparency), we got many advices and helps to survive this seasonal event. We got lots of customers day by day even we just open our shop only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in this Summer and Autumn.
The Kakigori kaido event at Miyazakien Hitosaji ends today in 2018 – although the event continues till 31st October officially.
In the Miyazakien, we often offer our Japanese black tea cultivated and manufactured in our garden to our customers. And we also enjoy it with our staff and family. A slightly sweet scent is very nice.