KANKITSU LABO Japan Visit Chapter 3: Visiting Organic Yuzu in Kito Village

In September 2023, the KANKITSU LABO US team flew to Japan and got together with the Japanese team to learn about citrus fruits from the experts. The second day of our trip started with a visit to the Kito Village in Tokushima Prefecture, where we met with two Kito Yuzu farmers and producers. 


Kito Village RiverKito Village

Kito & Japanese Citrus Fruits
Kito’s yuzu paradise can be found in Tokushima’s Naka-cho, formerly known as Kito Village. Located more than 300 meters above sea level, Kito is best known for its unique location—nestled in the southern foot of Japan’s second tallest mountain, Mount. Tsurugi. Heavy rainfall, calcium-rich soil, and temperate climate set the stage for high-quality yuzu that lend a stronger aroma and acidity than other regions. The village’s lush natural landscape has even earned it the title “Tibet of Shikoku.” 

Blessed with crystal clear streams, the residents of Kito protect their abundant water resources. In fact, they were the first Japanese village to block the development of dams, which would jeopardize the prized valley where kito-yuzu are grown. So, it is no surprise that Kito is considered the “birthplace” of yuzu citrus fruit in Japan.

Kito Yuzu   
Kito yuzu is a premium variety of yuzu that results from the region’s favorable climate and ideal combination of natural elements. Awarded numerous prizes, Kito-yuzu is the secret to the exceptional quality of products that come from this mountain village. Revered as the “best yuzu in Japan,” Kito Yuzu was the first fruit tree to win the Asahi Agricultural Award in 1978.

Kito Yuzu BannerKito Organic Yuzu Tree

Our Visit to Kito-Mura, Organic Yuzu Farmer & Producer
Kito-Mura, a well-known yuzu brand in the region, specializes in producing nutritious and sustainable food products crafted exclusively with Kito Yuzu. We had the incredible opportunity to learn about their process and exactly how they maintain such a high caliber: 

Organic & Earth-friendly Practices
In their commitment to preserving the integrity of their products and local ecosystem, Kito-Mura harvests all their yuzu without pesticides, herbicides, or chemical or plant-based fertilizers. The process for ingredient sourcing is incredibly selective, and Kito-Mura only uses local products—no preservatives or food additives. The company also uses the most ecological tools and packaging possible to minimize any human or ecological harm. 

Ancestral Practices & Technology
Every Kito-Mura product uses ancient Japanese extraction methods, including a traditional wooden instrument designed to simulate hand-squeezing; this reflects their dedication to quality, as it sacrifices yield to maximize flavor and health benefits. For example, while industrial yuzu machines typically yield a 20% extraction rate, the traditional method used by Kito-Mura yields only 10%—just half!  


Yuzu basket with Kito Mura on itKito Yuzu Juicer

Their devotion to this time-consuming process results in a mellow, fragrant juice that simply can’t compare to its machine-extracted counterpart. Aside from the love and care in every drop, this traditional yuzu technology keeps the peel's bitterness from mixing into the juice, keeping it balanced and fruity! 


KL Team with Kito Mura MembersKito Mura Shop

Visit to Ogon-no-Mura, Yuzu Farmer & Producer
Ogon-no-Mura, which literally translates to “golden village” or, more specifically, “a village shining with the gold of ripened yuzu fruit,” was established in 2013 at the heart of yuzu production in Kito. Since then, the company has developed a wide range of citrus products, including ponzu (a Japanese yuzu citrus vinaigrette) and yuzu chili peppers, all crafted with Kito yuzu grown and harvested locally without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. 


Ogon No MuraOgon No Mura Green Yuzu

Kito-Yuzu Meets Beauty & Home
In 2015, Ogon-no Mura expanded their business by launching their beauty and home décor line, “Kitojunos.” Inspired by yuzu’s scientific name, “citrus junos,” along with the health and beauty it impacts upon the local population, the brand specializes in soaps, aromas, and deodorants infused with the signature kito-yuzu essence—which requires seven yuzu fruits for just 1 mL! 


Restoring the Yuzu’s “Golden Glow”
As passionate stewards of Kito’s rich landscape, Ogon-no-Mura is committed to promoting responsible agriculture through farm management practices. The company is on a mission to restore the local ecosystem as a service to their community. They see this “agricultural revival” as a means of establishing a sustainable economy in the village of Mokuto while also inevitably “reviving the golden glow of Yuzu.” 


Ogon No Mura MemberKito Yuzu when ripenedKito Yuzu Farm when Yuzu RipenedKL Member with Yuzu