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Kenji Boys
The “Kenji” still alive and Well to this day

Kazunori Sugama
Farmer, Musician

Kenji Miyazawa was interested in a wide variety of studies, cultures, and natural providence, devoting his passion and ideas to these throughout his life. This series of stories features the young men of Iwate who perpetuate such creativity and spirituality in the modern world.


Have my hands ever touched the soil? 

“It was a long time ago, back when I was in Tokyo.  I came across a passage in Miyazawa Kenji’s “General Theory of Farmers’ Arts”. It read: “Let all your troubles burn as firewood, and let your spirit be one.”  I now feel that these words have brought me to this point in time.

Sugama is thoroughly immersed in natural farming deep in the mountains of Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture. “Unless the whole world is content, nobody can rest. Be strong, don’t avoid hardship, and be single-minded in your efforts”. With Kenji’s message to young farmers close at heart, he is dedicated to a life of cultivating crops.

When he was in Tokyo, Sugama was a musician with a guitar in his hand. Once, after writing a song called “Soil and the White Hue,” he had a major epiphany.

“It was supposed to be a song about the soil and mother nature, but I began to question playing it despite my hands having never been anywhere near the soil. I even felt embarrassed that I had written the song.”

Confronted by such a realization, he moved to Nagano for a year to learn about living in nature from scratch. After that, he searched for a place to live and came across an old-style Japanese house in Iwate, which is his current base.

“I vaguely felt the oppressiveness of living in Tokyo since I was a child, but I still don’t know if the answer is to live in nature. What I can say though, is that I have the feeling that my soul is replenished when I devote myself to farming. Although i’ve only just started natural farming, I feel a great sense of meaning in living with my body fully immersed in farming, and perhaps what I really needed was to live in contact with the soil.”

Sugama taciturnly comments that he does not want to cut down his time as a farmer in order to play music. After choosing to be true to himself, will he ever get to strum a soulful melody again? The answer to this question remains elusive, even to Sugama.

Kazunori Sugama
Born in Tokyo, began playing guitar at the age of 10.  Composed a variety of solo music as well as working on various collaborations. In 2020, moved to Oshu City to focus on natural farming and providing  crops to local restaurants.

text | Miguel Utsunomiya Photography | Shuhei Tonami