KANKITSU LABO Japan Visit Chapter 2: Versatile Sudachi and Sustainable Kankitsu Farming

In September 2023, the KANKITSU LABO US team flew over to Japan and got together with the Japanese team to learn a lot about citrus fruits. Shortly after our visit to JA Sudachi Farm, we dropped by Kamiyama Michi no Eki, aka the Kamiyama Roadside Station. 


Kamiyama Michi No EkiSudachi in Kamiyama area of Tokushima PrefectureLearning more about sudachi products in Tokushima PrefectureSudachi Jam at Kamiyama Michi No Eki

Diverse Ways to Enjoy Sudachi Citrus in Tokushima
Upon our arrival, we were surrounded by the uplifting aroma of sudachi. There were various sudachi harvested by different farmers throughout Kamiyama town and we even found seedless sudachi! We also learned more about different kinds of sudachi products made in Tokushima Prefecture. Some items that caught our attention were Kamiyama Sudachi Jam, Sudachi Ponzu, Sudachi Dashi and Sudachi Sorbet and we were fortunate enough to taste them at the Michi no Eki.


After leaving the Michi no Eki, we visited a local “Awa Cafe”. Owned by Ms. Yumi Morinishi, who solely operates this cafe with her love for the Kamiyama region. The cafe serves excellent dishes featuring the ingredients harvested in Tokushima Prefecture and rice grown in Yumi’s rice field. What they are most known for is their Kamiyama Bijin Cake, a sudachi avocado mousse that won the 3rd prize in the Tokushima Sweets Competition in 2015. Avocado’s rich texture and subtle sweetness go amazingly well with the refreshing sudachi aroma and flavor. It’s truly an impressive creation!


Visionary Farm Committed to Maximizing the Power of Citrus Fruits
Our last stop of the day was Yamagami Citrus & Herb Garden, located in Sanagōchi, the only remaining village in Tokushima Prefecture. They sustainably grow Japanese citrus and make a variety of citrus-related products with three missions in mind. First, they aim to stably produce Japanese citrus essential oil, for which demand is increasing both domestically and internationally. Second, they make use of citrus juice, seeds, inner peel, bags, and pulp that are all generated during the essential oil manufacturing process. Those raw materials are made into beverages, jams, and dressings without being wasted. Lastly, they strive to develop new cultivation methods and usages of Japanese citrus and increase their values, in the hope of growing the cultivation area and revitalizing the Sanagochi village. 


Throughout our conversation, we also learned that Yamagami Citrus & Herb Garden envisioned bringing original products with an unprecedented manufacturing method that drew out the goodness of the whole citrus fruit effectively. To make that happen, they traveled to Calabria, Italy, where they learned about an essential oil extraction method called “pelatrice”. With the method, which is rarely seen in Japan, a machine powerfully scrapes only the outer peel with metal nails, crushes the oil spores on the surface of the citrus fruit, and extracts the essential oil out. Since there is no contact with the fruit juice, you can obtain the essential oil with a fresh, pure aroma unique to the fruit. They incorporated that unique method into their essential oil manufacturing through long negotiation and by customizing a smaller version of the machine to fit into their warehouse.


Oil extract method done by this custom machine is now called “Marugoto Kawa Kezuri ® Seihou”, aka Whole Peel Shaving Method, it can separate outer peel, pulp, inner peel/bag/fiber, and seeds. Each part of the citrus are used according to its characteristics—the outer peel for essential oil, the pulp for juice, the inner peel, bag, and fiber for liqueurs and cordials, the seeds for extract, and the final residue for compost.


Typically, citrus peels are inhibitors which makes them incompatible to distill to make liqueurs. However, at Yamagami Citrus & Herb Garden’s distillery and thanks to unique Marugoto Kawa Kezuri ® Seihou, they can scrape the peels to extract, remaining yuzu citrus is filled with aroma and mixed with cane sugar, yeast, to ferment to make delicious Kankitsu Liqueur Yuzu (ABV: 6% and 25%), Kankitsu Liqueur Iyokan (ABV: 12%), Kankitsu Liqueur Sudachi (ABV: 9%), and Kankitsu Liqueur Lemon (ABV 9%).


Last but not least, Yamagami Citrus & Herb Garden has the vision to be a farm where kids can play worry-free. A farm where they can play with dirt and eat tangerines right off of the trees. Focusing on organic farming, then to natural farming—throughout their steps of growth, they envision their farm to be biodiverse, where diverse living things such as plants and insects can live happily together.