Sampling Organic Farm-Fresh Produce in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Jul 25, 2022

Sampling Organic Farm-Fresh Produce in Kumamoto

South of Mount Aso is a town in Kumamoto called Yamato. Although it’s relatively unknown as a tourist destination, it’s the perfect spot for organic farming due to the minerals from volcanic ash in the soil and water and the cool climate. The organic farming trend in Yamato began more than 40 years ago, and the town now utilizes some of the most advanced techniques in the country. A visit to Yamato will allow you to try farm-fresh vegetables grown without artificial pesticides.

Yaski Farm

A great example of how young people are becoming more involved in organic farming in Yamato is Yaski Farm. The farm is run by Yasuki Torigoe (who is also a musician). He recovered and transformed abandoned land into an organic farm using soil analysis software. During your visit, you may see wild boar and deer — they are free to roam across the ground, and their droppings form the ideal fertilizer for crops such as carrots.

Yamato Desica

A farm and restaurant combined, Yamato Desica is a collaboration between young farmers and chefs. Having a meal inside a greenhouse on bales of straw is quite the experience! Plus, since the staff is involved closely in the production of the ingredients used for the dishes, they’ll be able to give you some unique insights into the food you’re eating. In addition, to produce from the farm, plates feature game and fish from Yamato, such as wild boar and salmon.

Nakahata Farm

You can learn all about strawberries (and sample some for yourself) at Nakahata Farm. The farmers will explain the cultivation method, show you how the sugar content in the fruits is calculated, and give you more information about the different varieties of strawberries. Nakahata Farm produces four types of strawberries: Yubeni, the sweetest of the four; Koiminori, which has a taste somewhere between sweet and tart; Benihoppe, with its intense aroma; and Yotsuboshi, a new F1 hybrid.

The Hassaku Festival

If you’ll be near Yamato in September, it’s worth visiting during the Hassaku Festival. The festival dates back 250 years and is when the locals pray for a successful harvest. The main event is a parade featuring otsukurimon consisting of sculptures of animals and people formed of straw, bamboo, bark, and other materials taken from the surroundings. The community gathers these materials year-round and starts building the sculptures around one month before the festival.

Even if you don’t visit Yamato in September, you’ll be able to see the sculptures stored in the Yamato Tourism and Cultural Exchange Center. Viewing them up close allows you to appreciate all the detail.

Although you could visit the town, a better option is to sign up for a bus tour. This will open up opportunities like strawberry picking, trying organic farming practices for yourself, and the chance to eat as much produce as you like. A tour will also take you to some of the highlights of Yamato, such as Tsujun Bridge, the largest stone aqueduct in the country.

松岡明芳, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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