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Tour de Nippon

Rediscovering the allure of Japan

Kisarazu, Chiba

Occupying the southern part of Chiba Prefecture and straddling the Pacific Ocean and Tokyo Bay on three sides, the Bōsō Peninsula is a treasure trove of nature and scenic beauty. Kisarazu City in the Uchibō area is the entrance to the peninsula, and thanks to being just half an hour away from Kanagawa Prefecture via the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line, provides a tourist destination close to the capital region that you could visit on a whim.


Behind the delicious flavor is the love of the producer

Only one hog farm remains in Kisarazu. So off to Hirano hog farm we went. “We want people we do business with to understand how these pigs are reared, with extreme affection, before we entrust the pigs to them” – so explains Megumi-san who handles public relations for her husband Kenji Hirano, himself a third-generation hog farmer. Business partners are always chosen after an initial dialogue. Inspired by her husband, Megumi prefers to do business with those who share the same level of enthusiasm, not limited to producers.

Kenji’s mother and three other employee’s are currently rearing 1,500 hogs for a brand called Hayashi SPF. Most of the day is occupied with cleaning out excrement, grabbing fleeting moments in between to feed the animals, carry out health checks and maintain the facilities.

“While it is of course encouraging to please our loyal restaurant customers and butchers, it is always nice to hear locals saying that they love our pork.” There is evidently a strong desire to remain loyal to the local customer base. Pigs heartily reared on grain-heavy feed don’t require round the clock care by humans. And while every possible precaution is taken against infectious diseases such as swine fever, the frightening prospect always remains. Megumi and her family spend their waking hours rearing these animals, and their love and affection for them is borne out in their words and deeds.

1 minute o-musubi

Opened this spring as drive-through only, “1 minute o-musubi” serves up simple salty musubi (rice balls) as well as matured enzyme brown rice balls. They use local ingredients with no preservatives wherever possible, and collaborate with other local shops to concoct tasty creations crammed with seasonal goodness:
1)Rice balls are perfect for busy people.
2) Linking one destiny with another = the spirit of o-musubi.
3) Owner and rice farmer Teruhiro Yamano ensures that you can pay and be on your way in one minute.

”Despite always chastening the children not to leave a single grain of rice, I didn’t understand how rice was actually grown myself”. From the desire to teach the children about the provenance of food, Yamano-san upped sticks and left for Kisarazu to cultivate rice without using any chemicals. He did so while carrying on his day job as a director of TV programs. Starting out by commuting from Tokyo, he then put down roots and started to utilize the WWOOF system, giving board and lodgings to people who come and help to farm the rice paddies. Showing that rice can be grown without chemicals earned him the respect of the local populace.

While cultivating his fertilizer-free rice, he entrusts whatever jobs he can to other farmers in the community. In a future where farmers will need to pool their resources instead of going it alone, the humble rice ball will play an important part. “You need a strategy in place for when the rice is picked and ready. Rice has the power to link up people with bonds that will never break”.

Papersky’s Tour de Nippon project is about finding the magic of Japan’s rural districts, their inhabitants, nature, culture and food. We travel to various prefectures and ride bicycles. Traveling via bicycle allows us a clean and healthy way to explore Japan’s rural areas.