Today, we zipped down to one of the suthern islands of Japan, Kyushu, on Shinkansen (bullet train). Kagoshima is located on the southern tip of Kyusyu island. Kagoshima is the second largest green tea producer after Shizuoka, Japan. It is predicted green tea production in Kagoshima will surpass one in Shizuoka in the near future. Growing green tea is Kagoshima’s pride, and we witnessed the passion during our visit.
Our visit began with the Shimodozono Tea factory & farm, where we get our fantastic organic Fukamushi Sencha comes from. Fukamushi Sencha is deeply steemed Sencha green tea, which offers you richer flavor than regular Sencha.
On the second day in Kagoshima, we visited the famous Sakura-jima Volcano. This volcano is still active as you can see from the smoke rising from it in the piture. From there, we traveled to Wakohen Tea farm and factory. There we enjoyed a 7-course feast with tea incorporated in every dish.
Later, we visited the Sakamoto Gyokuro Tea farm. We enjoyed their amazing Gyokuro and Karigane made with cold brew method along with home-made Japanese sweets. The President, Mr. Sakamoto, made a wonderful presentation about what makes the best health benefits. His passion to offer the highest quality teas for his customers impressed every one of us.
We finished our tour with an overnight visit to Koya-san Mountain, a sacred village filled with temples. One of our travelers described our visit to Koya-san Maintain was “a cherry on top of.”
We said a bitter-sweet goodbye to our wonderful new ambitious-traveler friends. We are so thankful a love of tea brought us all toether and gave us the opportunity to explore Japanese culture and teas. Treasure your cup of tea for you never know where it may take you.
“Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.” By Okakura Kakuzo
Point each picture to read caption.
Trip from Kyoto to Kagoshima by Shinkansen
Bento lunch in Shinkansen
SEI MEE TEA tour bus
Greeted by President Shimodozono Tea Company. He answered our questions about how tea is made and different varieties of tea.
Carefully packed one by one
The President’s wife is a certified tea ceremony instructor. This beautiful tea room is where she teaches and performs traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Traditional tea room with Tokonoma
Going into a countryside
Organic tea farm in a countryside of Kagoshima.
Examining the new buds.
Tea farming operated by quality machine in Japan
The machine on the left is used to harvest tea leaves when ready. On the right is a fertilizing machine that uses all natural fertilizers. The trackis of these machine are well designed to fit perfectly between the rows of tea plants and were invented in Kagoshima.
Saemidori, fast growing cultivar is beginning to grow new buds, meaning it will be ready for harvest soon.
Mr. Richardson eats fresh leaf
Two generations passionate about green tea.
Her first tea farm visit was when she was 5. It’s been 12 years….
They are passionate about growing organic green teas
Tea farmers take break in this traditional room with irori open frame barbeque table.
Discussing which products to buy
Learning about tea products
Fukamushi Sencha, deep steamed green tea, was delicious and refreshing.
Green Tea purifies air and brings relaxation. “Cha-koro” is an incense burner to use green tea leaf as insense.
Visit to a smoothie shop using black vinegar, “Kuro-zu”.
This type of pot is used to store and ferment black vinegar. the longer it is fermented, the sweeter it gets.
Black vinegar products
President of the black vinegar. We sampled the 1, 2, 3, and 5 year versions of black vinegar.
Our first group dinner was held in Kagoshima with Kayo from JETRO Kagoshima office.
Beautiful presentation using seasonal fresh ingredients.
Japanese bracken fern, Warabi, cherry blossom, and dandelion represent beautiful spring.
Fresh snapper and tofu in pot.
Even beer bottle has a label with cherry blossom, which is available only in Spring.
Going onto the second day.
Sakurajima via Ferry.
Shopping for local souvenirs, purple yam chips.
Lecture by Bruce Richardson goes on while we move on bus.
Discussion with JETRO representative
Mr. Richardson and Kagoshima tea company
“Hurricane Machine,” their invention, is to rid of pests without pesticides.
With Mr. Horiguchi, Senior Exective Director
At tea garden in Kagoshima
Bruce and Shelley Richardson in tea gardein in Kagoshima, Japan
Wakohen: “Garden of harmony and fragrance.”
Green tea lunch
7-course tea feast started with this beautiful appetizer.
Tofu made with Genmaicha powder.
Salad with Sakura jelly sauce.
Soup with bamboo shoot.
Green tea soba noodle.
Beef steak with Hojicha sauce.
Hojicha chocolate cake.
Further into countryside.
2 year old Camellia sinensis
Baby green tea bushes nursery
Tea garden managed with TLC
Demonstrating how well the soil is taken care of.
Designated area for hand picked Gyokuro
Sakamoto Gyokuro tea garden in Kagoshima
TV camera was waiting for us.
Cold brew Gyokuro, cold brew Karigane, and Sakura mochi sweets.
Special Gyokuro Powder Matcha.
Bruce enjoys Sakamoto’s Gyokuro Powder Matcha.
Green wine? No, it’s cold brew Gyokuro.
Mr. Sakamoto’s younger brother, is Vice President.
Informative slide show explaining what makes the healthiest green tea.
Mr. Sakamoto is an accomplished artist.
Local TV interviews Mr. Sakamoto.
Kiyomi translates Bruce for local TV.
Bruce and his wife, Shelley, with Mr. Sakamoto.
Kiyomi and Mr. Sakamoto Brothers.
Our last day: we used almost every form of transportation–bus, plane, train, cable car, and taxi. Climging up to Koya-san Mountain by Cable Car.
Entrance hall at the temple.
The panels in the dining room are covered in elegant gold leaf.
We were greeted with a bowl of matcha and a red bean paste snack.
Our “dining room.”
A delicious vegetarian dinner fixed and served by the monks in a Buddhist Temple, Souji-in.
Choosing optional drink menu.
Sesame tofu (left) and vegetarian sushi made from various plants.
Part of the first couse of our dinner: Nabe (hot pot).
Tempura dish with burdock root, lotus root, and flower from the Fuki plant, which is a spring treat.
A beautiful cabbage roll filled with a meat substitute.
Apple jelly with fresh strawberry, pineapple and kiwi.
A night tour going to the cemetery where more than 200,000 people are buried, including well-known Samurai warriors.
The temple bath area–an interesting mix of modern and tradition.
We slept on futon beds in a beautiful tatami mat room.
Morning meditation started at 6 am.
Marciful god, Kannon, in the prayer hall.
The view from our tatami mat room.
Our breakfast–healthy and delicious.
Saying good-bye to our fellow travelers who were leaving early.
Strolling in town after breakfast.
Totoro–a childhood favorite for our children and many others.
A yummy local treat shop with all kinds of pastries and mochi.
At a tea shop run by a young lady originally from UK.
The massive Danjo-Garan. Kana for size comparison.
Kukai, Buddhist monk and scholar, who first settled in Koya-san Mountain. He was the first to bring tea seeds form China to Japan in early 9th century.
Our fellow travelers enjoying chatting before going their separate ways.
Bitter sweet good-bye at Kansan International Airport.
“Let us dream of evanescence…”
If you haven’t seen the first part of our fantastic trip, click here.
Meet the Author: Kiyomi