To relish Yamanashi's delicious fruit more and for longer.Delightful dried fruit made by fresh fruit
Home is where the heart is.
People, sceneries and food of your hometown… You take them for granted while you’re living there but once you move away from home, you would come to understand and appreciate the value of those things.
Yamanashi is a fruit kingdom. When in season, it’s an ordinary sight for locals to see plenty of peaches and grapes all over their houses, whereas this is something extraordinary for those from outside Yamanashi.
Mr. Kota Mukoyama, the founder of AmiNature, is a dried fruit artisan who makes dried fruit using local delicious fruit in “fruitful” Yamanashi.
Dried fruit they make with no additives is attracting a lot of interest for being good for your health and beauty.
Mr. Mukoyama moved to Tokyo when he started university, and stayed in Tokyo as he got a job there after university. He returned to Yamanashi at the age of 31 with a desire to work in a farming related field. He established his own business while helping his parents’ farm. He named his business “AmiNature” and makes dried fruit using fruit from Yamanashi, which have absolutely no additives.
The official website of AmiNature Co., Ltd.: https://shop.ami-nature.com/
Yamanashi makes it possible
AmiNature, which is located in Fuefuki city, is a company that expands the possibilities of Yamanashi’s fruit.
Yamanashi Prefecture is surrounded by mountains and Fuefuki city sits on an alluvial fan of Yamanashi. There they have rich soil and fruit has been actively cultivated since long ago. Today, the city is the top producer of peaches and grapes in Japan.
Not to mention the amount of their produce, what’s dazzling many people is the quality of their fruit. Farmers take a great care of each piece of fruit by hand and their produce has impressed a lot of people.
Studying dried fruit
Mr. Mukoyama moved to Tokyo when he started university and after graduating, he got a job at a company, where he worked on a big project as a project leader being involved in the development of cars and so on. Then he returned to Yamanashi when he was 31.
“The timing was due to my father’s health issues but I was always going to come back. I really like the sceneries and environment of this area where I was born and raised, and I’ve always thought that I want to protect and preserve these sceneries and environment for future generations.”
Mr. Mukoyama searches for business he can develop as a sole proprietor while helping with his parents’ farm.
“I wanted to make use of this nature and farms. The first thing I tried was ‘Cultivation Request’, where I cultivate what the client wants on their behalf. On the concept of offering Yamanashi as ‘a large yard that is a short distance away’, I tried cultivating crops and plants the clients asked for. But it didn’t really go well.”
The reason why it didn’t go well was that the quality of the soil in this area being “too good”.
“I had a request from a client to grow hibiscus. However it takes three years for them to bear fruit. It turned out that Yamanashi’s soil was too fertile for growing hibiscus.”
At the same time, Mr. Mukoyama was studying how to make dried fruit. It all started with his wife’s words. “I wish I could eat such delicious peaches all year around.”
At present, AmiNature produces various kinds of dried fruit using fruit harvested in Yamanashi, which are mainly peaches, kiwis, strawberries, Pione grapes and astringent persimmons.
“We still continue to try and make dried fruit of good quality through trial and error. The most difficult fruit is peaches. We check how much they have dried out by hand so every worker needs to be on the same page when it comes to quality control. It’s been five years since I started this business. I feel that I’m finally reaching the place that I’m satisfied with”, says Mr. Mukoyama with a smile.
From the specific size and thickness of fruit they cut into to duration of drying process, AmiNature’s recipes, which have been developed through trial and error striving for “deliciousness”, cannot be found anywhere else.
“First of all, it’s important to use fruit at its best. Then make dried fruit from it thinking about the impact of the completed form. Some of fruit we use for dried fruit is bruised since we don’t want to waste them, but they come from the top producing area in Japan. The taste is superb. This lavish way to use such fruit of good quality is only possible because it’s in Yamanashi.”
Products of “Fruit Launch”
“When I started this business, water pipes weren’t even laid. This place (processing plant) was built this summer.”
At present, AmiNature produces about 500kg of dried fruit a year. There are more farmers in the neighborhood these days that say, “We want you to use our fruit, too”, but with their current capacity, it is a bit too much for them to handle at the moment.
“Our dried fruit is available at local supermarkets and other facilities as well as online. We also dedicate our products to a local shrine for Omiyamairi*. But what I’m aiming for is 10 times the current amount of our production.
(*Omiyamairi: This is one of the traditional customs in Japan where people take their baby to a shrine after its first month to receive a blessing.)
It can also revitalize the community when the younger generation like us starts something new locally. Also, there’s no one in the community who’s not in favor of this type of new establishment. I think that’s because it’s a community-based activity, which locals have always wished someone to establish for their community.
I understand farmers’ thinking as I was born in the family of farmers and I also understand city people’s thinking towards fruit as I’ve lived in Tokyo for a long time. I’m realizing again these days how rich in natural resources Yamanashi is and I appreciate what we have here.”
The environment he wants to protect and deliciousness of the fruit he wants to spread to the world.
“Yamanashi is really rich in natural resources. If we make something of good quality with something we can only find here in Yamanashi, I think there will be many chances for us”, says Mr. Mukoyama.
Take a look at what you have and discover what you can introduce to the world.
Take a look at the world and find how people can discover your produce.
Products of “Fruit Launch”, which make use of Yamanashi produce, hope to reach a lot more people in future.