Home to the Yuzu Revolution
Kito Yuzu won the Asahi Agricultural Award for the best yuzu in Japan.
It is loved and sought after by high-class Japanese restaurants due to its
charming rich aroma
delicious sour taste.
But it was not always like this.
The road to get there was an arduous one.
Discover the history of Kito Yuzu.
It used to take
from seed to fruit.
Kito is a small and remote town along the Naka River and next to the second highest mountain in western Japan, Mt Tsurugi.
A group of people
in a small town of rural Japan
When Hiroshi Usuki,
was sent to Kito,
he found a lush but poor town
that had been exploited
by the cedar business.
“Kito is a Tough place to farm.”
“It is. But if I can get them to grow yuzu,
I’m sure it’ll be the best yuzu in Japan.
If they come together, they can turn it into a real industry.
That’ll let them work their own land as independent farmers.”
Excerpt from "Kiseki no Mura" by Miyoko Asai.
One one of his walks, thinking of what he could do to empower Kito and its villagers, Usuki caught sight of the most vigorous, vital Yuzu tree he had ever seen.
He offered the villagers to join efforts and made a plan to attempt what had never been done before:
graft yuzu trees.
His idea was ridiculized by most. But Kentaro Fujita, a young villager who was itching for a positive change
in Kito, listened carefully.
Risking their livelihoods and reputation,
Mr. Usuki and Mr. Fujita
joined forces and managed to lead a group of hopeful men towards their goal to revitalize the town.
I admire people who never let go of their dreams.
People with passions so powerful they spend their whole life chasing a single dream,
prepared even to die in its pursuit.
Or, to put it another way, people who die before their passion cools.
I have no desire to become a feeble-minded old man.
I simply do not know how to live an aimless, easy life.
──From “A Tiny Soul,” by Kentaro Fujita (age 24), Yamanami, 1959
For years, the grafted trees wouldn't blossom, bearing no fruits.
But, one day...
“Mr. Usuki! Come look at this! Follow me!”
“When I found it this morning, I thought I was seeing things. The very tree I was most worried about goes and blossoms all by itself!”
That particular tree had had its branched trained into a goblet-like shape. As they discovered later, it improves the flow of sap.
True to Usuki's hunch,
the perfect environment
the best yuzu.
Instead of exploiting their discovery, the group chose to share it with the world and teach other neighboring cities how to grow yuzu.
Still to this day,
is known in Japan for being
of the highest quality.
In Kito, they continue to take care of the land, using natural fertilizers...
...and treasuring every fruit.
bit of yuzu
The fragrant peal is used to make snacks, drinks, etc.
The rest is placed under the trees as fertilizer, to give back to the earth some of what we take.
Kentaro Fujita's son, Yasushi Fujita, continues his father's legacy.
His dream is to share the fruits of his previous generation's efforts, with the whole world.
With our journey, we hope to help make that happen.
What makes Kito Yuzu unique?
Kito is 2 hours far away from any city, both to the West and East. Only one main road crosses the town. 80% of Naka prefecture is forestry. The air is sharp and clean.
The town gets its water from the mountain glaciers, that comes flowing down through the Naka River.
In March, amego fish swim downstream.
The temperature oscillation (both between day and night, and summer and winter) creates optimal conditions in which Yuzu trees thrive.
Kito town is a valley surrounded by mountains -one of them the 2nd highest in the whole prefecture:
Kito continues to honor de wisdom of past techniques and traditions; they make sure to press yuzu in the right way to not make it too bitter.
They invest in new technologies that help produce the high quality of their products, and to improve the conditions around working with yuzu.
Kito Yuzu is cared for and hand picked by locals -us too!
One of our goals is to find people interested
in partnering with us to introduce Kito Yuzu and its story in the U.S.
Feel free to contact us anytime.