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Japan: "The fewer the flowers, the bigger the strawberry"

Born and raised in Sanagouchi, a tight-knit farm village in Tokushima Prefecture, Masafumi Kurisaka, 50, spent seven years at a major Japanese industrial and engineering corporation in Osaka. He left to carry on the family strawberry business. Now, 25 years later, he is the owner of Japan's first luxury line of strawberries, a brand called Sakura Momo Ichigo, and head of the Strawberry Division at Tokushima City's Japan Agricultural Cooperative.

Himari Semans with the Japan Times asked the following questions to Masafumi to get a better understanding of his works.

Can you describe yourself in three words?
"Cheerful" is the first one. The second is "red," as in I'm burning with passion for my strawberries. Lastly, "strawberry," because I need to think as though I am one of my strawberries to know if they are thirsty or too cold.

What made you quit your corporate job and switch to farming?
I had begun to doubt the way the corporation operated. At the same time, my father's strawberries, called Momo Ichigo, were taking off. I thought the timing was right to carry on the family business.

What does strawberry farming mean to you?
I am proud of my strawberries and want everyone to try them. I don't expect 100 out of 100 people to love them, but I want to grow the kind that 90 out of 100 will love. No other place than Sanagouchi can use the name Sakura Momo Ichigo because we were the first in the country to legally register and claim it for us. We pioneered the strategy to turn agricultural produce into a luxury, like how people think of Louis Vuitton.

What is your daily routine?
I wake up at 4 a.m. every day. First, I box strawberries. Then I eat breakfast, some locally produced seaweed with rice, around 7 a.m. Afterward, I harvest strawberries, ship them and finish around 6 p.m. Still, I continue packaging strawberries until 9 p.m.

Read the entire article at Japan Times

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