Date : January 24 - 25, 2023
Report: Miyazaki Press Tour
post date : 2023.03.15
Miyazaki Prefecture, the venue for the G7 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting in April 2023, is blessed with a warm climate and is one of the Japan’s top agricultural prefectures. This tour visited Miyazaki Prefecture to cover its unique agriculture passed down from generation to generation, and the people who are taking on challenges to protect agriculture in a difficult environment, with an aging population and increasing fuel and fertilizer costs.
Nine journalists participated in this tour, from media based out of China, Germany, Singapore, Switzerland, the US, and Vietnam.
*This tour was sponsored by Miyazaki Prefecture and planned and operated by the FPCJ.
*For more details on the tour steps, see the press tour notice here.
<Japanese Agricultural Heritage: Daikon Yagura Radish Towers>
In the Tano and Kiyotake areas of Miyazaki City, massive daikon yagura (radish towers) are lined up in the fields every winter to dry the daikon radishes for pickling. A Miyazaki City official explained the history of daikon yagura and how they work before the tour saw how the radishes are hung up by manual labor in the six-meter tall towers. The journalists then heard from a radish farmer as well. The tour participants listened intently to the explanation of how drying the radishes naturally in the cold wind led to the unique texture they are known for, and took many pictures and videos of the unique sight of whole radishes being dried in these massive daikon yagura.
Michimoto Foods Co., Ltd. is the only manufacturer in Japan specializing in dried takuan (pickled daikon radish), and the tour heard from company president Mr. MICHIMOTO Hideyuki about their business, such as the takuan-making process with an insistence on Miyazaki daikon, and the development of gluten-free takuan for overseas markets. The journalists saw where the takuan is produced, and had an opportunity to taste the dried takuan, with some being clearly surprised at how good it tasted.
The tour visited Honbu Farm, which has implemented smart dairy farming using ICT and robotics, where Honbu Farm president Mr. HONBU Hirohisa showed the journalists the smart barn which automatically regulates temperature and humidity, and the milking robot which cows go to on their own in order to be milked automatically. At the biogas plant which uses cow manure, the journalists asked numerous questions, such as about the plant’s effectiveness in cutting costs as the price of fuel and fertilizer grows due to the international situation.
The tour heard from Mr. KAI Muneyuki, President of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System(GIAHS) Takachihogo-Shiibayama Revitalization Association and Mayor of Takachiho, about the site, and watched a performance of kagura, an important element making up the site. The journalists filmed and photographed the intense performance, and then heard from members of the local kagura preservation society about the meaning behind kagura and initiatives to pass on this culture.
<Tochimata Tanada Terraced Rice Fields>
The tour visited the Tochimata Tanada, certified as Tsunagu Tanada Heritage (a designation for excellent rice terraces in Japan) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the staircase-like terraced fields while hearing about local initiatives to pass on the mountainside irrigation canals and terraced rice paddies to the next generation. The journalists also interviewed a woman who moved from Miyazaki City to Takachiho Town to start working in agriculture, and showed particular interest in her, asking her why she chose to move to Takachiho and what kind of support systems the government or local residents provided for new farmers.
<Sugimoto Co., Ltd.>
Sugimoto Co., Ltd. purchases dried shiitake mushrooms from local growers, processing them and selling them, and in recent years has entered international markets as well. Company president Mr. SUGIMOTO Kazuhide showed the tour shiitake mushrooms being grown on sawtooth oak logs on the mountainside, followed by an opportunity to see how the dried shiitake were processed and selected at the factory. Journalists asked questions about the sustainability of a business model of buying dried shiitake from local seniors, and future development of the market for dried shiitake. Mr. Sugimoto stated that the number of vegans and vegetarians overseas made foreign markets potentially lucrative, and he stated how he wanted to increase sales overseas.
<Miyazaki Sabo Co., Ltd.>
The tour visited Miyazaki Sabo, which makes a variety of teas without using any chemical fertilizers or agrochemicals, including kamairicha, which is only produced in limited quantities throughout Japan. In addition to seeing the tea fields and the plant where the tea leaves are processed, the tour also had an opportunity to see kamairicha being roasted by hand. While sampling a number of different kinds of tea, in a Q&A session with company president Mr. MIYAZAKI Akira the journalists asked questions on topics such as why young people from around Japan came to work at Miyazaki Sabo when it is located deep in the mountains in the town of Gokase, and whether the company had plans to enter foreign markets considering the domestic market was anticipated to shrink.
<Miyazaki Prefectural Gokase Secondary School>
Miyazaki Prefectural Gokase Secondary School, a public integrated junior high and high school where are the students live in the dorms, has implemented a Global Forestopia Study curriculum aiming to educate students so they can work at a global level, by pursuing topics based on the local mountainous region. The tour heard from four students about the research projects they carried out for Global Forestopia Study, and activities to solve issues.
◆Below is some of the reporting based on this tour.
Stars and Stripes Pacific（U.S.）
"VIDEO: Exploring Japan: Edo Era’s radish drying method continues in Miyazaki" (25 January)
"VIDEO: Miyazaki’s Takachiho Town home to some of Japan’s many myths, legends" (2 March)
Beijing Youth Daily（China）
"看世界｜日本宫崎冬季传统——竹塔上晒萝卜（世界を見る｜宮崎の冬の風物詩、竹やぶの上で大根の天日干し）" (30 January)
"Trang trại bò sữa “thân thiện với bò” ở Nhật Bản" (7 February)
"Độc đáo trang trại bò sữa thân thiện ở Nhật Bản" (7 February)