(THISIS)SHIZEN® ディスイズシゼン

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樋口 昌直



Nature is the foundation of life

抗わずに、寄り添う。 自然という生活の土台


Asamiya tea - one of the oldest Japanese refined tea that has its history for 1200 years. The tea leaves grow on the misty slopes of the Shigaraki Asamiya, where is about 400 meters above sea level between Kyoto and Shiga, under the severe condition of a great temperature difference between day and night, and four seasons. Asamiya tea contains the essence that THIS(IS)SHIZEN cherishes - the circle of the seasons, the history of the land, visiting old, and to learn new… When you drink Asamiya tea, provides the vision from those essences.


The oldest refined Japanese tea The history and reformation of Asamiya tea.

There are many descriptions of tea drinking in Japanese history books. The earliest of these is said to be the description of Shiga tea in the book "Nihon Koki".
About 1,200 years ago, Saicho, who built the Hienzan Enryaku-ji Temple, visited China as an envoy to study Buddhism, and then brought various things back to Japan that includes a seed of tea. The origin of Asamiya tea is that the seed was introduced to Asamiya region in Omi. At that time, tea was not for enjoyment but was used as a Chinese medicine.

— (THISIS) SHIZEN will handle tea leaves grown in completely organic tea plantations. Currently, about 1/3 of the tea garden is organic. Is the process different between organic and non-organic cultivation? And how did you get into the organic tea plantation?


The most suitable idea in this era for makers and consumers

This is an organic tea plantation that we started five years ago, and we acquired JAS certification data last spring (2019). Pluripotent plants, such as tea, that have been growing for many years can attain JAS certification on condition that they are managed without using any chemicals or pesticides in three years. I got into organic plantation because there were many requests from wholesalers and customers. Organic plantation produce pests more often than using chemical fertilisers and its taste is not much different from the leaves using chemical fertilizers. However, too much use of chemical fertilizer with high nitrogen content can destroy ecosystems. Nowadays, the mindset has changed to try to eliminate such things. Not every tea plantation is made organically, but there are those who understand these natural and environmental considerations and choose and buy organically grown tea leaves.
Chanomi Yagura started a farming from my father's generation. My father is now 73 years old. When he was in his twenties to fourties, the tea industry was booming nationwide. In those days, the more tea you made, the better it was sold, so that people use a lot of chemical fertilizers to make many harvests, but now the balance between demand and supply has collapsed, and there are too much supply. In other words, there are a lot of unsold tea leaves every year. For example, the price for vegetables goes up in the  bad harvest year, but in the case of tea, its quality can be kept for several years, so the price does not easily increase just because we have bad harvest year. Therefore, you have to be a person who has a solid faith on tea making. You have to make tea leaves that are not only delicious or cheap. It is an era that has to be sympathized with the philosophy.

— You are surrounded in the tea plantation and mountains as far as the eye can see.  What does nature means to you?


Laying the foundation in the transitioning nature.

I think there are many different perspectives towards nature, but when I do this job, I think that nature is the “foundation”. Farmers among my father's generation often say, "I cannot win the nature." This area is located in a high mountain basin, and it is coldest place that records the lowest temperature in the Kinki region. However, tea is originally grow in mild climate around southern China. Tea grows during the night by using the nutrients stored during the day by photosynthesis, but this area gets too cold at night so it can't grow. However, that's the element that creates the unique scent of Asamiya tea. Asamiya tea, which has a deep scent, is made of using the power of nature. On the other hand, in places of production where has such high slopes, a phenomenon called "late frost" occurs. Then, when new tea buds emerge, those things often die when the late frost occurs. Also, mountains may collapse if a heavy rainfall disaster occurs. After all, I think that it’s impossible to go against nature. 
Our life are repeatedly helped or threatened by nature. In the past, I have been thinking that to overcome the threat of nature would lead to stabilise the business, but now our method is transitioning into  more eco-friendly way and try not to put burden on nature . This is not only us, but also other farmers are producing crops by getting along with nature, so that our relationship between nature is changing.

For example, there is a pesticide that every tea farmer knows, which is effective against the insect pest called the PSEUDAULACASPIS PENTAGONA TARGIONI , but if there is a silkworm farmer within a radius of 15 km to 20 km, it will cause bad effect to the silkworm so that I cannot use it. We have silkworm farmers in Shiga prefectures. Therefore, the pesticides cannot be used in this tea producing areas of Shiga Prefecture. In that way, instead of just thinking about tea leaves, but also considering about surrounding environment is the essential key when you use agricultural chemicals. Nothing or no one must not be harmed.

— How would you like the people see your brand through collaboration with (THISIS)SHIZEN? 

I appreciate that this small producer in the mountain like us got interested. We the producers are treating the tea leaves as living creature, not as product. Therefore, I wish people to feel our emotion in the tea leaves, and also wish the store becomes the place where our message can be delivered to the customers.

Photography by Kohei Yamamoto


Born in 1976, Shiga. After graduated from university in 1999, he started farming in his home town since then. In 2016, he started organic farming of tea leaves. 



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