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Ishigaki Island: Maajun’s Jersey Bokujo (Dairy Farm)
post : 2021.07.26 18:00
With a distance of approximately 15 kilometers, the Sakieda Peninsula is situated on the western part of Ishigaki Island. At the center of the peninsula is Mt. Yarabudake, and together with the scenic Uganzaki, this area is a very popular driving course that offers spectacular views of the island.
In this lovely Sakieda Peninsula is a small but fruitful dairy farm, Maajun’s Jersey Bokujo, an agricultural production corporation that above all else, emphasizes the well-being of the dairy cattle. The farm is located atop a small hill overlooking the mountains and the spectacular ocean, with a comfortable breeze blowing across the fields.
The representative of the corporation is Hidenobu Tanaka, who oversees about 20 Jersey cattle together with his farm staff. They go to great lengths to care for their Jersey cows that they care deeply about.
Jersey cows naturally prefer cooler climates and so at Maajun farm, they take extra precautions in keeping the cattle comfortable and have set fans and showers on the ceilings of the barn. Except for when they’re being milked, the cattle are free to roam between the barn and the farm grounds that spread across 2 hectares.
For their feed, Tanaka-san starts from scratch; from making the soil and growing the grass himself. He tries to limit feeds imported from overseas as much as possible and feeds his cattle fresh grass grown on Ishigaki Island which contains plenty of minerals.
(Photo courtesy of Tanaka-san)
“I pay close attention to creating a stress-free environment for the cattle so that they can live happily. This is only logical because if the cattle are happy, they secrete oxytocin or what we call ‘happy hormone’ which brings sweetness to the milk that they produce. Yogurt and cheese made from such milk are exceptionally tasty,” says Tanaka-san with a smile.
Tanaka-san is originally from Fukuoka prefecture and he relocated to Ishigaki Island about 20 years ago. He worked on a farm in Hokkaido and then when he was 29, he decided to go to Europe, the best place to learn all about dairy farming. He worked on farms in Switzerland and France for two years, moving to different farms every three months. At each farm, he acquired precious knowledge on everything regarding dairy farming.
After returning to Japan, he fell in love with the beautiful nature and culture of Okinawa and decided to move to Ishigaki Island permanently. In 2005, he acquired three Jersey cows from a local islander who had looked after him, and that is how he began his dairy farm, Maajun’s Jersey Bokujo.
With the fermentation skills he achieved in Switzerland, Tanaka-san is producing his line of processed dairy items like yogurt and cheese. Presently, his products are available directly from his shop located at the front of his farm, as wells as in hotels and markets on the island, and through his online shop.
The products made by Maajun’s Jersey Bokujo are rich and creamy, with a touch of sweetness at the depth of their flavors, all created with the delicious milk produced by his Jersey cows who spend their days in comfort and with happiness.
Nomu Yogurt (yogurt drink) 500ml, ¥550 (tax included)
Mozzarella Cheese 100g, ¥560 (tax included)
Baked Cheesecake 12cm in diameter, approx. 300g, ¥2,400 (tax included)
Osake-no Otsumami Set (snacks to accompany drinks) ¥2,895 (tax included)
[Included in the Set]
String Cheese (one each of Plain, Pipachi Pepper, Smoked) 60g/each
Cream Cheese (one each of Garlic & Parsely, Shima Negi (local green onion), Rum & Raisin) 80g/each
(Photo of products courtesy of Tanaka-san)
Lastly, I asked Tanaka-san what his goals for the future are.
“There’s no limit in all the things I want to do. I want to work on creating a place where my customers can directly connect with this farm. I’d like people to see for themselves, the environment that the cattle live in. I hope to start a café here on the farm where the view is fantastic, and offer various dishes and desserts created with our products,” he shared.
With his bright and innocent smile, Tanaka-san continues onward in his pursuit of finding the answers to “What is ‘happiness’ and ‘abundance’ for both people and cattle?”
I’m looking forward to the day when Tanaka-san opens his Maajun’s Jersey Bokujo Café.
Maajun’s Jersey Bokujo (dairy farm)
Address: 555-250 Sakieda, Ishigaki City, Okinawa 907-0452
Hours: 14:00 to 18:00
*Prices quoted in this article at the time of writing in June 2021.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Akiko Mizuno