The pioneer in herb farming – Shimota Farm

The pioneer in herb farming – Shimota Farm

Shimota Farm is located in Toride-shi in Ibaraki prefecture, and produces more than 100 varieties of herbs as well as vegetables on a very large plot of land. The herbs include the standard mint, rosemary, thyme and basil as well as very unusual herbs that are used for Italian and French cuisine. The President of Shimota Farms, Masuo Shimota, is an influential figure in the Japanese agriculture and cooking.

“I began growing herbs about 50 years ago. I bought a ticket hoping to learn about agriculture in England, but I ended up in France. I bought the wrong ticket because I wasn’t very good with the alphabet. I went to France with an English dictionary. (laughing) I tried a salad with a lot of herbs in France, and it was so delicious. It made me think of raising herbs in Japan.” The herb tea he served us as we talked was refreshing and delicious.

Initially, many were turned off by the strong scent of herbs, but gradually, orders came in from chefs of renowned hotels. Eventually, word spread to the chefs as well.

“Many chefs visit our farm to this day. Some very famous French chefs visit our farm as well. They keep requesting new herbs, so our selection continues to expand. There’s even an herb that’s used to make a sauce just once a year. (laughing)”
President Shimota truly enjoys researching, and has even sent a letter to an English Count known for his expertise in herbs, just to get some tips.。

“I didn’t count on getting a response, but I did, and he invited me to visit a week later. (laughing) It was so sudden, I panicked. I took my wife who wore her kimono, and we visited his very large estate. I’ve learned so much from the Count in the 20 years since then.”

President Shimota is dedicated to growing organic, chemical free herbs that are safe and trustworthy. Recognizing the importance of knowing the composition of his products and providing the same taste, he built a laboratory worthy of a large conglomerate. Continuing his research of soil and fertilizer, he is often asked to analyze produce from his neighboring farms. Herbs are available even in supermarkets now, and most got their start at Shimota Farm before becoming popular all around the country. He also began accepting exchange students from Indonesia to teach them about agriculture more than 20 years ago, and holds seminars for local farmers in an effort to share his knowledge and experience. In 2015, his contribution to agriculture was recognized with a Yukosho medal. The very rambunctious president of Shimota Farms with his very distinct local dialect is actually a VIP in the evolution of Japanese cuisine.


Shimota Farm
192 Kaizuka, Toride-shi, Ibaraki
TEL 0297-78-8239