I was born the second son of Tategamori Ark Farm founder Teruo Hashimoto. From a young age, my older brother (the current president of Tategamori Ark Farm) and I accompanied our father as he went about the pig farm. I recall learning, although I was still a child, how to check up on the health of swine, and the importance of feed, water and environment to their rearing. In a way, I received an early, privileged education.
My father died of illness during my second year at university. While studying toward my university degree, I trained at pig farms in various parts of the country for about two years before coming home to Iwate. The road from then on was in no way smooth. I was made aware of the challenges of working with animals as I experienced combating a major outbreak of disease as well as the ramifications of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Despite the many trying experiences, I think I have managed to remain true, in all the work I do, to the spirit inherited from my father: “produce food you can confidently serve to your own beloved family. Only then can you confidently offer products to customers.”
In this time and age of ever more rigorous breed improvement for the sake of efficiency, our brand of pork, Tategamori Kogen Buta, has always given top priority to good taste and quality. We pride ourselves in the meat quality of our pork, which is fine-textured and tender in the lean, and clean-tasting and umami-rich in the fat. Some customers prefer stronger flavors, but we aim for a taste one can enjoy daily without tiring of it, a rich yet clean-tasting pork that appeals also to women and the elderly.
Our efforts toward food safety include obtaining in 2013 an on-farm HACCP certification, making us the first farm in the Tohoku region to do so. The thoroughgoing system of hygiene management we have established ensures a pleasant environment for both our livestock and their keepers, and is crucial for delivering reliability and safety to our customers.
Delivering delight and satisfaction to customers through the pork we produce is our greatest joy and motivation. We are determined to carry on working hard and sincerely to offer products capable of winning greater satisfaction from more customers.
Pork used in our hams and sausages is 100% Tategamori Kogen Buta. Charcuterie products are thought of as containing lots of food additives, which is not always true. Tategamori Ark Farm produces additive-free hams and sausages, which fully allow the natural flavor of the meat to come through.
When we embarked on charcuterie production, we asked Jurgen Schmidt, a German charcutier, to come over to Japan to thoroughly teach us the basics of production. Jurgen has remained our valued friend and adviser ever since.
He also introduced us to the German charcuterie company where we trained for three months after launching our own production facility. We lodged at a room in the shop-cum-home during our training days, interacting with our German hosts. Though baffled by language and environmental differences, we were able to learn and memorize the many recipes with our tongues and eyes before returning to Japan.
For several years, we produced low-additive hams and sausages. We subsequently embarked on the production of additive-free hams and sausages in order to realize the company motto of “food is life.” Additives are used even in Germany, the home of ham and sausage making where we trained, and additive-free charcuterie making requires high levels of skill and hygiene. Our additive-free hams and sausages were perfected by fusing our original know-how with the knowledge and techniques we learned in Germany. The process was full of challenges, but today our additive-free hams and sausages have become unrivalled products enjoying growing demand.
Despite the difficulties, we are looking forward to making ever safer, tastier additive-free hams and sausages, and are confident that we can do so.
From its founding Tategamori Ark Farm has pursued agricultural sustainability in various ways. Today the farm makes fully mature compost from livestock manure and kitchen waste generated by our restaurant and charcuterie production. The compost is used on our own crop fields, as well as by neighboring farms.
I joined the company in 1977 and have dedicated myself to pork production ever since, working hard to deliver safe, reliable and delicious pork under the company motto, “food is life.”
In 2001 the local municipality of Fujisawa-cho (today part of Ichinoseki City) opened an organic fertilizer center in a bid to establish sustainable agricultural practices in the local community. However, making good quality compost is not easy, and in 2005 the then Fujisawa-cho government entrusted us with the operation of the center.
Although we were aware that making compost from livestock manure was key to sustainable farming, we had little knowledge about compost making and soil preparation at the time, and had to start from scratch. We researched what kind of quality farmers wanted in compost, and through trial and error attained the know-how we currently have. The qualities we look for in the compost we produce are:
Put simply, the role of compost is to make soil healthy. Healthy soil produces safe, delicious, wholesome produce. We are looking forward to carrying on producing compost that contributes to the production of delicious produce.