This time we are spotlighting the Okura Village of Mogami in Yamagata prefecture.
The population is about 3500 people.
There is an imposing mountain Tsukiyama, which is the symbol of this village, the elevation of 1984m.
This cold upland village is surrounded by mountains.
In winter time, there is a bitter north wind which blows, and makes the average temperature below zero.
When the coldness gets intense, there's 4m of snow on the ground, so you can guess how it gets extremely cold here.
This village has been a Historical hotsprings village for over 1200 years, named Hijiori-Hotsprings, is also the main tourist spot in this village.
The source of Hijiori-Hotsprings is the volcanically-active mountain " Hijiori-Volcano ".
The village has also been registered as the village that makes world biggest snow-man.
Now we're going to focus on the farm product of this village which is " soba " ( buckwheat ).
It's an old and rare kind of soba called " Mogami-Wase " which is been produced for a long time in the Mogami area.
Mr. Kazuyuki Kato, from Green Rice Farm is 63 years old and is nicknamed Kazu-ni-chan. ( Brother Kazu )
He is known as a master of soba producer who has made premium soba for long time, and is popular in this village.
Mr. Kato, used to be a rice farmer. Now he produces soba.
The reason for his changeover happened after a Honeymoon to Guam.
He strongly felt that he wanted to be a farmer who could be able to bring his family back to Guam every year.
Another reason was from his childfood…
He was born after the war, when there was nothing left in this village.
He was affected by the sweet chocolate which his uncle brought to him sometimes, and he was longing for beautiful emerald green oceans which he had seen in western movies.
Well, his dream wasn't going to be easy if he was only making rice…
The income from producing rice was so limited.
Then he found something he could produce that would still allow to use his rice farming tools.
That is the " Mogami-wase " .
Another aspect helped him produce soba was the availability of unused land to farm.
The daily industry was slow in this village at that time so that he could use that land which had been used for growing animal feed.
Mogami-wase, is a soba which is known for being " big, flavory, sweet, and dense ".
He wanted to pursue ways to make it taste even better.
He had faith that he could make the best.
After the 12 years of experimenting and investigating, he finally found the taste that he had been aiming for.
He produce soba in a special environment called " Reika-soba " which is grow in the area has fog in the morning and night,
providing an ideally moist environment and temperature.
" Reika-soba " is synonymous with good soba.
He is not only producing soba, but also owns the Soba-Restaurant " Iwagami-Gongen Soba ".
He also has a passion for producing soba flour.
He found a special way of milling which holds the taste and scent of the soba called " Kinusu Shiki ", conical type of mills.
Therefore, he has many costumers who seek his high quality soba from the local area, and the other prefectures.
There is a " Good Harvest Competition " held in Yamagata every year, and he received the best prize from the Mayor.
This prize is for honoring huge contribution toward agricultural production, business management and skill development in Yamagata…
He was acknowledged by the costumers and the Mayor too!
His success in Yamagata is unbreakable.
Now he's passing over his skills to his son.
And his dream of going to Guam every year has come true.
We asked him, " What is the key to the success? ".
" If you wanna make something good, you have to play too! ", he answered with big smile and confident face.
Everybody has different motivations for changing their life.
In his case it was a travel to abroad, which he had wanted to do from a young age, and wanting to share this happiness with his family.
The result of his action and all of his efforts has brought happiness to his family and many people.
You can enjoy his premium Mogami-wase online too.
Here's the site… (http://ohgarcons.co.jp/)
He has great reputation on the net too.
There's over 250000 people who support his soba.
Also he has another product, created in collaboration with the Tea master in Kumamoto.
It's Mogami-wase Rose.
You can see the pink color and scent of rose blended with Soba tea.
It's worth trying this unique new style and flavor of tea.
Report : Shogo Naruse
Photographs : SURPRISING FARMERS