The Watanabe family currently operates Hachimanjyu Yakushima Tea Garden as a certified organic tea farm, factory, and retail shop. The Tea Garden was originally started by Mankichi Watanabe and his friends, who dreamed of producing the best quality tea by utilizing Yakushima's unique and pristine environment. With its advantage of a warm geographical location in the southernmost part of Japan, Yakushima produces Japan’s earliest high quality shincha, sought after by tea enthusiasts throughout Japan.
In 2001, the Hachimanjyu Yakushima Tea Garden, including the entire tea farm and tea manufacturing facility, received the JAS organic certification. We believe that our farming method is environmentally conscious and suits the island designated as the world natural heritage site.
When we find an insect eating tea leaves, we pick them one by one with our hands. When we find harmful insects, we cut off the branches instead of using pesticides. The natural environment of a tea field teaches us the power of nature and the feeling of gratitude. Due to its isolation from the rest of Japan, Yakushima as a agricultural heaven also has the added benefit of no pesticides and other pollutants contained in the rain or earth.
We cultivated the tea field ourselves by reclaiming the cedar forest. No farms are found near the surroundings so there is no risk being affected by pesticides from other farmers.
Shiba Yayoshi, Watanabe Mankichi, Kurushima Hisashi. All born in 1948 on the island of Yakushima and went to the same high school. The company name Hachimanjyu (八万寿) is a combination of each character taken from our name.
After graduating from high school, all three of us lived outside the island for five years, and then reunited after returning to Yakushima. While spending some years in Yakushima, we began searching for a job all three of us can devote to with dream and pride. That was when we found out Yakushima was suited for tea production.
On May, 1985, after returning from a visit to a tea production region outside the island, we started preparing: searching for land, fundraising, and learning the skills necessary to cultivate tea. We assigned each other roles, and worked together to proceed with the plan. Working in tears and sweat, we established Yugengaisha Yakushima Hachimanjyu Chaen. We acquired 12 hectare of farmland in the region of Kyu-kamiyaku-cho, Nagamine, and began organic farming from scratch.
Yakushima Island, belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture, is located 135km south of the Osumi Peninsula of Kagoshima. In 1993, about 21% of the island was designated a UNESCO World (Natural) Heritage Site.
With its heavy precipitation throughout the year (often said that it rains 35 days a month), 90% of the island is covered in forest, with unique vegetation. Japanese cedar trees in this forest are often more than 1,000 years old and called ‘Yakusugi’. In the Yakusugi forest lies one of the world’s oldest trees, the Jomon Sugi, estimated to be between 2170 – 7200 years old.
The highest elevation on the island is Miyanouradake, the highest mountain on Yakushima as well as in the entire Kyushu region. Rich in nature with mountains, beaches, and even onsen hot springs, Yakushima attracts many visitors; but the island is especially popular due to the influence of an animation ‘Princess Mononoke’ by Miyazaki Hayao, in which the setting is said to be modeled after this island.