Budo Sansho

Budo sansho as a career

JAPANESE
BudoSansho+XDesigning life in mountain villages

The voices of budo sansho farmers

Compared to other farming,
it is easier to start from scratch.

Kitora Farm
Kiyonobu Shinda
Representative of Kitora Farm, specializing in growing and sales of budo sansho. In response to many requests from overseas, the farm is recently working on organic production of budo sansho. He has a strong passion to raise the brand value of Budo Sansho and developing it into an industry that can be passed on to the next generation.
1

Gather the right information
before starting a farm.

I became involved in growing budo sansho when I took a “U-turn” from Tokyo. I spent my college years in Aichi and then worked in Tokyo, but decided to return to my hometown when I got married. I started growing budo sansho when a relative who was a farmer recommended it to me.

I think I was fortunate to have my family and many supportive people from the very beginning of my farming career. Having both the hard skills, such as finding a farm and preparing the equipment, and the soft skills required to make a living as a farmer were crucial.

For farming, I consulted with the Aridagawa Town Office and JA, and received support such as receiving subsidies. Before I started farming, and even now, almost 10 years later, I consult with them whenever I have a problem.

It's also a short distance from Osaka and other urban areas. I think it would be a good idea to first come down and visit Aridagawa Town and see for yourself.Our current focus is on organic farming. Since we don't use any pesticides, the yield may not be as high in some areas, but having your own farm grants you the freedom to test out and try new ways to promote your budo sansho brand.

Point
Make effective use of
local government systems.

Additional income from making
mulberry tea and working as a gardener

The busiest season for budo sansho farmers is the harvest time, which comes twice every year. May in early summer and July/August are the peak busy seasons. The sansho harvested in May are used for tsukudani, while the sansho harvested in July and August are dried and ground with a millstone to make powdered sansho, which is a popular condiment enjoyed in Japanese households. Both have a fresh, strong aroma and a stimulating pungent taste that tingles the tongue.

Outside of the peak season however, our hours are relatively flexible. As for the harvesting in July and August, we are responsible for drying and shipping, and JA takes care of the milling and other processing. We don't need large equipment like heavy machinery, and the initial investment is low compared to other types of agriculture, so the barrier to entry is low.

However, I have a family, and considering my income throughout the year, I have been incorporating "Budo Sansho + X" to create other sources of income. For my case, I am making mulberry leaf tea and work as a gardener.


Annual schedule of Kitora Farm

Mulberry tree in Kitora Farm

After the budo sansho harvest season ends in August, we make tea from the leaves harvested from the mulberry trees growing in the mountains. It takes about two weeks to harvest a year's worth of mulberry leaves, then we dry, process into tea leaves, and ship them out when we receive orders.

Mulberries require close to no effort. No fertilizers or pesticides are used, and use the wood in the mountains to use as the heat source for steaming the mulberry leaves. The dehydrator is shared with the one used for budo sansho, so there is almost no need to invest in equipment to make mulberry leaf tea.


Mulberry tree in Kitora Farm

I also take on gardening work during the winter months. The landscaper I am working with is also a budo sansho farmer, so he has a good understanding of the “budo sansho + X” workstyle and I can consult with him about budo sansho and gardening work, which is very helpful.

Both the mulberry leaf tea and the gardening work have a fixed schedule, so I can calculate my income and expenses throughout the year. Mulberry leaf tea is rare in Wakayama prefecture, and since we use natural methods for cultivation and processing, we receive orders from all over Japan.

I'm sure there are other ways to incorporate “Budo Sansho + X” that no one else has done yet, so anyone can find that “X” from their own strengths.

Point
Start a new line of work
during the off-seasons.

Budo sansho is a world-class product.

In other countries, sansho is called the “Japanese pepper”. When I participated in a trade conference in France a few years ago, I really felt that sansho was recognized as a spice that represents Japan.

A French chef, who has a great nose for aromas, had prepared some sweets using budo sansho as appetizers, and I was surprised at the great response from the visitors. I was also surprised again by the wide range of culinary ideas using budo sansho, such as combining it with chocolate and cheese.

If I do say so myself, I believe that the commercial value of budo sansho is very high, and has the potential to be widely enjoyed not only in Japan but also in the world. Our mission is to further promote the value of budo sansho and to attract more people to get into budo sansho farming, which will help to preserve the local region.

I believe the key is to have multiple channels to expand sales, such as through e-commerce, using social media, and appeal to young people who are willing to try “Budo Sansho + X” like myself.

Point
Using e-commerce and social
media.
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