Visiting Yame City & Kurihara Seicha

Having had the opportunity to venture to the Kyushu region in Southern Japan, ITFA paid a call on Yuji Kurihara, manager of family-operated Kurihara Seicha. While we didn’t get a chance to visit his tea fields deep in the mountains of Yame Village in Yame City, we talked at length about the ITFA supporting his farm as they seek to come online in English.

Currently, Kurihara Seicha grows, processes and finishes tea selling to elite sencha and gyokuro connoisseurs in Japan only. They hope to find a way to reach a more mainstream as well as a foreign audience while maintaining their reputation for premium Japanese teas.

Photos from the World Tea Expo

Photos from the World Tea Expo.

The farmers were stunned by the amount of attention they received from WTE attendees, and have also received quite a bit of attention back home for their efforts to reach out to the world!

Great job everyone!

Tea Planting Event for Junior High Students

Thursday, 2011.03.17—The students of Wazuka Junior High School visit Obubu’s new tea field to participate in a tea planting event. Having taken place just after the tragic Great Tohoku Earthquake, the event was held with the theme “The Rumor of Life” in mind. By planting tea seedlings, the students learned firsthand about how they were creating and nurturing the buds of life.

Japanese version below.

The town of Wazuka is too small to have a high school, so when these students graduate from Wazuka Junior HS, each and every one of them will have to go to high school outside of Wazuka.

Before their Junior High School life in Wazuka comes to an end, we hoped that this event would serve to strengthen their knowledge about their hometown.

The students put their wholehearted effort into planting the seedlings.

Actually, the students were so enthusiastic that we finished much earlier than we had thought. Each student planted 10 tea plant saplings! So with the remainder of the time, the students helped us pick up the rocks that still litter the field (very mundane but important work for proper field maintenance in the future).

The saplings planted today will be cultivated with loving care by Akihiro Kita, our president, and will be harvested for the first time in five years.

In five years, when these students are 20 years old, they will participate in their coming-of-age ceremony.

At their ceremony, we hope to present them with the very first harvest of the tea field as a present. The shincha of shincha.

Each of the students will choose their own path in life, but we hope that they will remember this day and think about the tea of their hometown, where the best Uji sencha is grown. Who knows, perhaps some of these students may return one day to become tea farmers themselves!