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Sep 2007 | Vol. 4 MUSO NEWS
Locally, Organically, and Sustainably @ Yamaki Brewery.
Yamaki Brewery

Muso’s annual employee training and seminar trip took place at Yamaki Brewery from July 13th to 15th. Even though the trip coincided with a big hurricane moving across Japan, we still had a very special, educational three-day stay in the middle of the woods.

Yamaki is not just like any ordinary Shoyu/Miso manufacturer you would usually find in Japan. Yamaki is always in the process of evolving by taking full advantage of blessings of nature. Here we would like to share with you the ultimate model of sustainability, which is shaped by harmonizing with nature.

Sustainability @ Yamaki
Shoyu/Miso Production

Ceremony at Shinto Shrine

Organic Vegetables


Yamaki’s goal is to establish a food culture that helps to create harmony between people and nature.  Although their concept is completely opposite from today’s mass consumer culture, they live up to sustainable way of thinking.  One very important feature of Japanese culture is its 1,200 year-old history of fermented food production.  Yamaki’s business revolves around traditional Shoyu/Miso production, which is created out of the synergy between living spring water, this 1,200 year-old of fermented culture, and their involvement with natural agriculture, which takes full advantage of living soil.  The dynamics of Yamaki are coming from invisible energy that Nature is providing us.

The Yamaki of businesses commits itself not only to total coordination of agriculture, production, sales and distribution but also to operation of the concept restaurant “Shisui An,” whose aim is to provide Nature’s blessings in the form of food.  The Master Chef of Shisui An is a Grand Master recognized by the Shijo Family, who has been cooking for Emperor’s family for the last 1,200 years.  Kaiseki Shojin (Buddhist) cuisine consists of 11 courses, entree arrangements of vegetables in season and other foods that gratify the five senses. 

Most of the cooking ingredients, fresh, organic vegetables, are harvested within a 20km radius from the restaurant.  Raw materials such as soybeans, wheat, and rice for Shoyu, Miso, and Tofu are also harvested locally. A blessed environment, a sustainable and renewable model, and natural farming that produces living vegetables are recognized by the Shijo Family.  And through their recognition, Japan’s Royal Family uses Yamaki’s Shoyu and Miso.

As global warming has become a serious issue, sustainability is becoming more popular around the world.  However, the current sustainable-food movement too often focuses on the technical aspects, such as food miles and corresponding greenhouse–gas emissions during the transportation.  It has not yet arrived at the fundamental solution to the problem.  Yamaki’s philosophy, “harmony between people and Nature,” is not only one of the fundamental philosophies of Macrobiotics but also the backbone of ancient Japanese culture.  This sustainable way of thinking, harmony with Nature, is the true solution to the worldwide environmental problem of global warming; a way of thinking that Japan can proudly transmit to the world.

The Agriculture Revolution Called Nature Farming
Mametaro Nature Farming

Rice Field

Soybean Farm

Mametaro is The Yamaki Group’s agricultural production corporation headed by Mr. Suga, who is a well-known pioneer for Japan’s Nature Farming movement.  He is a born farmer with nine generations of farming in his family history.  He started practicing Nature Farming about 50 years ago.  Through trial and error, and exploring the mechanism of Nature Farming, he succeeded in converting all of his land to Nature Farming standards by the early 70’s.  Around this time, Japan was at the height of its economic boom.  Thinking of Nature Farming -- which was going against the flow at that time -- came under severe criticism.  Even from people in the same profession, he was treated as a crazy.  At the same time,” toxic byproducts of modernization, such as pollution were on the horizon.  

As a warning about modernization, a book called Complex Pollution by Ms. Sawako Ariyoshi was published and created quite a sensation across Japan.  In this book, Mr. Suga’s Nature Farming was introduced as the ideal model of farming.  Because of this book, Nature Farming became well understood by the general public.  And to promote Nature Farming further, a documentary film called “Living Soil” was produced.  This film was also translated into several foreign languages and shown around the world.  Around that time, people not only from Japan but also from the rest of the world, came to Mr. Suga for training.

The basic idea of the Nature Farming method is to respect Mother Nature (including mountains, rivers, grasses, woods, wind, water, fire, animals, insects, and fish), and to  maximize the potential power that nurtures life by truly understanding Mother Nature.  For instance, plowing a field involves a special technique that considers the flow of water within the field and making water reach to the tip of the root.  Thinking such as natural adaptation and respect to nature also apply to the making of compost that is produced with 100% vegetables.  To make it, leguminous hay, certain weeds, and grasses are mixed and broken down into small pieces first, and then blended by adding water.  This mixture of green finally becomes compost through a fermentation process accelerated by solar power. 

One of the characteristics of crops that are produced by Nature Faming is having a lot of fully developed roots.  An important point in Nature Farming is to select appropriate crops for any given soil condition.  In other words, understanding soil conditions will give less stress to the crops themselves.  Making “living soil” directly contributes to bringing out the maximum potential that vegetables have.  It is fair to say that Nature Farming was born out of a discourse with Nature itself.  Mr, Suga hopes to continue providing healthy and safe vegetables in order for more people to understand the importance Nature Farming for our protection of Mother Nature.


Takashi KusumotoI have enjoyed my job as a teacher, a food store manager, and now love MUSO's atmosphere. Please keep your best support to us.

Name Munemichi Matsuda
9 Star K i 8 White Soil
Self-Description Workaholic, logical, short temper
Favorite Muso Products Bancha, Brown rice cracker - black sesame, Roasted Umeboshi powder (as personal medicine)
Passion It's exciting to communicate with people all over the world.