Location

Finding land, working a small plot or anything else countryside related
no6una9a
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Location

Post by no6una9a » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:26 am

Being married with a lovely Japanese girl we are planing to move from Germany to Japan in about 6 or 7 years. As time goes by we seem to favor a more or less "slower" living in the Japanese country side.

We are not rushing but on the other side it's still a long way to the final move :cry: My wife was born in Kuyshu and because of that we always spend some time in that area when traveling to Japan for visiting relatives and friends.

In the past Kyushu area was the biggest option for us to settle down - nice climate and some relatives which might give us a helping hand especially during the start up time there. But the climate in Honshu/Shikoku might not be that different and friendly people are everywhere in Japan ;) So right now everywhere between Tokio and Kagoshima might be fine for us! I am just a bit cautious when it comes to the Pacific coastal area (Tsunami/Taifun) or Aso and friends (seismic activity).

Since we will be (more or less, depending on my current employer) about 60 years old when moving to Japan we are not planing to do full-scale farming. Just enough to make a living for ourselves, to share with some friends and just for fun. I am wondering where most of you guys are at home in Japan (Prefecture-wise) and if you had any climate/weather or other environmental-related reasons to choose the location.

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Location

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:57 am

I choose Chiba because that's where my wife's family live and we wanted to be close enough to them that visiting is easy. It made starting up so much easier having family connections, as an example the real estate agent was a friend of the family so we had no worries there. Our surveyor was a cousin of my father in law and our lawyer that finalised the property sale was also a family friend. Although there are no relations in the village we moved into I think it helped that folk knew she was fairly local. We also were gifted some farming equipment and tools from friends of the family that got us off to a great start so for us family connections have been invaluable.

Climate wise Chiba is good for farming, winters are short but cold enough that they kill off a lot of insects which take a while to get going again the following year but you can carry on growing right through the winter with a little protection. Summers are a bit hotter than I'd like but you just adjust your pace and don't over do it in the heat. Autumn and spring are both quite pleasant and that's when we are at our busiest.

Unless you are directly on coastal flatlands tsunamis probably won't be a major problem, can't rule out exceptional events obviously but choosing a good location can mitigate that a lot. Typhoons are going to be a fact of life wherever you are but Kyushu does seem to get more than it's fair share. Flooding and landslides from heavy rain is something to think about if you are thinking of western Japan, a riverside house may not be the best purchase nor one situated below a recently cleared hillside.

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Re: Location

Post by no6una9a » Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:02 am

Zasso Nouka wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:57 am
I choose Chiba because that's where my wife's family live and we wanted to be close enough to them that visiting is easy.
My wife lived about 20 years in Tokio. She tends to be attracted to the Kanto area more than to the Kyushu "hardcore" country-side.
Zasso Nouka wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:57 am
It made starting up so much easier having family connections, as an example the real estate agent was a friend of the family so we had no worries there. Our surveyor was a cousin of my father in law and our lawyer that finalised the property sale was also a family friend. Although there are no relations in the village we moved into I think it helped that folk knew she was fairly local. ...
Getting in contact/along with a completely new village community is something my wife is also a bit afraid about. You seem to have found a perfect environment family/community wise! Sounds pretty good to me!
Zasso Nouka wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:57 am
Climate wise Chiba is good for farming, winters are short but cold enough that they kill off a lot of insects which take a while to get going again the following year but you can carry on growing right through the winter with a little protection. Summers are a bit hotter than I'd like but you just adjust your pace and don't over do it in the heat. Autumn and spring are both quite pleasant and that's when we are at our busiest.
May I ask what kind of farming you are doing in detail? I just started to read your posting about "Chickens" - very interesting and also amusing stuff :) Maybe meanwhile your chicken population alone keeps you busy the whole day long? I saw in your details you do organic farming and also run a cafe on your farm?
Zasso Nouka wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:57 am
... Flooding and landslides from heavy rain is something to think about if you are thinking of western Japan, a riverside house may not be the best purchase nor one situated below a recently cleared hillside.
Yes, "Flooding and landslides" are also a good point - I still have to learn much during the next 6 years for sure.

Maybe areas located near the Japanese Sea like northern part of Yamaguchi, Shimane or Tottori, being far away from the busy Tokaido Shinkansen heartbeat, might also be a good option?

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Re: Location

Post by Zasso Nouka » Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:21 am

no6una9a wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:02 am
My wife lived about 20 years in Tokio. She tends to be attracted to the Kanto area more than to the Kyushu "hardcore" country-side.
It all depends on what you are looking for I guess and what the community is like in a potential area.
no6una9a wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:02 am
Getting in contact/along with a completely new village community is something my wife is also a bit afraid about. You seem to have found a perfect environment family/community wise! Sounds pretty good to me!
That is possibly the most important thing. We ruled out several locations because the people there really didn't seem interested in having newcomers moving into the area, it's no good if the perfect location isn't going to welcome you and make you feel part of the community. The place we settled on made us welcome right from the start and includes us in village events and festivals, just this weekend we had the village BBQ where everyone got happily drunk and ate lots of food and the next morning we all staggered in and cleaned up. Apart from how welcoming a potential community is it also depends on how hard you work at being part of the community.
no6una9a wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:02 am
May I ask what kind of farming you are doing in detail? I just started to read your posting about "Chickens" - very interesting and also amusing stuff :) Maybe meanwhile your chicken population alone keeps you busy the whole day long? I saw in your details you do organic farming and also run a cafe on your farm?
Actually the chickens don't take up too much time, we only have around 30. We feed them twice a day and collect eggs on the afternoon feeding,that's pretty much it. They come out of their run on their own and patrol around our land looking for insects and stuff.

Our farming is all organic and we grow a mix of Western and Japanese vegetables, think market garden type of operation. We source all of our manure from local chicken and cow farms and they deliver it free of charge, we get free manure and they get rid of their waste, everyone wins. We also make our own biochar from rice husks and bamboo during the winter to help improve our soil. We used to sell only locally at michi no eki but are now focusing on selling in Tokyo and at Takashimaya department store where prices are higher and we don't get undercut by hobbyist farmers.

The cafe is open only 2 days a week and we try to use as much of our own veg as possible, the menu is whatever Mrs Nouka could pick that morning supplemented with a few things from other local producers. It's largely vegetarian but not vegan.
no6una9a wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:02 am
Maybe areas located near the Japanese Sea like northern part of Yamaguchi, Shimane or Tottori, being far away from the busy Tokaido Shinkansen heartbeat, might also be a good option?
I've never been over that way so couldn't really say but I imagine there would be some beautiful places there. You'd have to pick an area and start exploring there.

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Re: Location

Post by no6una9a » Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:13 am

Zasso Nouka wrote: Our farming is all organic and we grow a mix of Western and Japanese vegetables, think market garden type of operation. We source all of our manure from local chicken and cow farms and they deliver it free of charge...
So you initially bought the farm with all its farming land from the beginning? Was it organic ground when you bought it or did you change it that way? From what I heard it is recommended to wait about 5 years for turning soil into organic ground without making use of it by that time.
Zasso Nouka wrote: We used to sell only locally at michi no eki but are now focusing on selling in Tokyo and at Takashimaya department store where prices are higher and we don't get undercut by hobbyist farmers.
So have a stand in front of the railway station selling your products, right? Is it difficult to get the permission/place/... for this? Takashimaya - wow - I would expect that this is rather difficult to accomplish? You maybe cannot walk into Takashimaya and tell them: Here I am - with the products you have been waiting for so long?!?
Zasso Nouka wrote: Actually the chickens don't take up too much time, we only have around 30.
How much space do you use for the chickens? Do you divide this space into parts and rotate its usage to give the soil time to recover?
Zasso Nouka wrote: The cafe is open only 2 days a week and we try to use as much of our own veg as possible, ...
If we can manage it we might come along someday - maybe there is kind of cake set on the menu?!? ;)

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Re: Location

Post by Zasso Nouka » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:07 am

no6una9a wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:13 am
So you initially bought the farm with all its farming land from the beginning? Was it organic ground when you bought it or did you change it that way? From what I heard it is recommended to wait about 5 years for turning soil into organic ground without making use of it by that time.
Our land isn't farmland, it's registered as mountain and forest (Sanrin) and was originally forest, then someone bought it to build a retirement home but that project collapsed and the land was abandoned for a long time after they cleared the forest. We are not registered as an organic farm as the registration process is extremely expensive and somewhat of a sham compared to organic certification in Europe. Some of the practices allowed under Japanese organic certification, like steam sterilisation of soil and insecticide use between crops seem antithetical to organic ideals.
no6una9a wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:13 am
So have a stand in front of the railway station selling your products, right? Is it difficult to get the permission/place/... for this? Takashimaya - wow - I would expect that this is rather difficult to accomplish? You maybe cannot walk into Takashimaya and tell them: Here I am - with the products you have been waiting for so long?!?
:lol:

Michi no eki are city run farm shop where local produce is sold, potentially any local farmer or producer can apply to their local michi no eki to start selling if there is space available. We were lucky enough to also get into two neighbouring town's michi no eki as well even though we are not living in those towns but they knew of our vegetables.

Getting into Takashimaya isn't easy but we were actually invited by them to come and sell in their store after they saw some of our produce at a trade show. It was a fantastic opportunity that we lept on immediately and has really been good for us but it's also a big responsibility to keep to. It's nice to have customers that are willing to pay a higher price for something a little bit unusual and the staff there have been incredibly supportive, organising little events to promote our stand and helping out in other ways as well.
no6una9a wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:13 am
How much space do you use for the chickens? Do you divide this space into parts and rotate its usage to give the soil time to recover?
The chickens have about the same space as about one and a half tennis courts inside our forest. We did intend to provide them with multiple areas to be used in rotation but it proved too much work to section off multiple areas of forest and keep the electric fencing and netting clear of weeds so we now have them in just one area. It's not ideal but they also spend a large part of each day roaming around our land outside of their enclosure.
no6una9a wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:13 am
If we can manage it we might come along someday - maybe there is kind of cake set on the menu?!? ;)
Mrs Nouka has Tea Time on saturday afternoons where you can order a dessert and tea or coffee ;) . As the cafe is quite small it's recommended to make a reservation to avoid disappointment.

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Re: Location

Post by no6una9a » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:31 am

Zasso Nouka wrote: Getting into Takashimaya isn't easy but we were actually invited by them to come ...
Sounds pretty much work for me, being present at (Tokio?) Takashimaya and two other towns michi no eki every week (?) while having to deal with all the other farming duties as well?! You might have a 12 hour x 7 days a week job?
Zasso Nouka wrote: The chickens have about the same space as about one and a half tennis courts inside our forest.
Do you have any other animals on your farm besides chicken and bees?
Zasso Nouka wrote: Mrs Nouka has Tea Time on saturday afternoons
Sounds promissing - I hope we can manage it sometimes

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Re: Location

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:25 am

no6una9a wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:31 am
Sounds pretty much work for me, being present at (Tokio?) Takashimaya and two other towns michi no eki every week (?) while having to deal with all the other farming duties as well?! You might have a 12 hour x 7 days a week job?
We split the work with Mrs Nouka handling all the sales side and I take care of the farming as she is really good at sales and I'm kind of ok at farming, she is at Takashimaya twice a month and has some other locations in Tokyo she does several times a month as well.The michi no eki are easy as you just have to deliver in the morning and they take care of it from there.
no6una9a wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:31 am
Do you have any other animals on your farm besides chicken and bees?
Yes we have Tanuki, raccoons, badgers and some other creatures :lol: but apart from our cats no other domesticated animals. We did think of a goat but when we realised you have to get rid of the babies every year if you want goats for milk we dropped that idea
no6una9a wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:31 am
Sounds promissing - I hope we can manage it sometimes
Hope to see you there sometime in the future.