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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 provides a chance to catch your breath with Tokyo in your sights across the water, and to be pleasantly surprised by the wit and wisdom of the warm locals.

03/30/2021

Food, farming and folk. A journey to a land blessed by Mother Earth

We are headed for a woodland area 20 minutes from Kisarazu proper. Just before arriving at our destination, a sky stretches out beyond a knoll that you would probably drive straight past in a car. Glimpsing over the hill, seemingly endless and dream-like fields come into eyeshot. This is “KURKKU FIELDS”, a sustainable farm and park occupying some 30ha and slap bang in the middle of nature. The landscape of solid earth imbued with colorful and bountiful nature is both dynamic and calm, and gets under your skin before you have even set foot inside. Kids play in the woods, ponds and open spaces, and people come from far and wide just to wander around taking in the architecture and artworks that are interspersed throughout the grounds.

KURKKU FIELDS is the brainchild of Takeshi Kobayashi, a stalwart musical producer and activist involved in tackling issues related to the environment, food and agriculture. Many years in the making, it is the encapsulation of his vision of how consumption and lifestyles should be in the future. Setting up an agricultural corporation ten years ago on this plot that was once a livestock ranch, he started work on clearing the land and stabilizing the soil with the aim of creating “a farmland that future generations can continue to use”. After growing organic vegetables and raising free range poultry for over nine years, the farm officially opened in November 2019.

Having acquired organic JAS certification for all 7ha of fields, Kobayashi serves up all kinds of organic vegetables in the on-site dining bar and also bakes various goodies using dough with yeast cultivated onsite.

Kisarazu City has committed to a vision of becoming an organic farming community. What is so amazing about this place  -which is something of a symbol for Kisarazu – is that everything in the fields is all interconnected in a symbiotic relationship.

Vegetable scraps from the restaurant are decomposed by worms together with mulch and fallen leaves, then rendered into organic fertilizer which is used around the farm. Weeping willow and waterweeds have the effect of purifying the quality of discharged water, which forms a small river that runs through the grounds. Buffalo and goat’s milk is used to make cheese, and at the processing plant for game meat built nearby, Kobayashi processes ham and bacon. Fresh eggs end up in delicious chiffon cakes and other treats, while animal excrement is composted in the manure hut. This amazing visualization of the cycle of food, farming and life is both surprising as it is educational, but the real joy comes when tasting the fantastic produce.

We meet Masafumi Ishikawa, who left his old job to become a poultry farmer, now presiding over 1500 domestically produced free range fowl which energetically peck at home-made fermented fodder containing rice, barley and soy pulp. Mozzarella this good in Japan is a genuine revelation! As we stuff our cheeks with this delicious cheese, we are told that it is down to the dedication of Mr.Hidetoshi Takeshima who reared the animals himself. Having spent time in Italy learning the real deal, he clocked up experience as a breeder in various locations before moving to KURKKU FIELDS with his family in tow.

Eating can in fact be a great vehicle for coming into contact with and sensing the cycle of life in a tangible manner. Showcasing a path to a sustainable future, KURKKU FIELDS is like nothing anywhere else and thoroughly unique to Kisarazu. There is little doubt that those who visit will leave inspired to try something similar in their own back yards.

PAPERSKY TOUR DE NIPPON
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.
text | KaO photography | Shinichi Asakura