Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2021/03/31
In 1999, Ms. Nakajima was living in Tokyo with her husband and five children. However, despite her practice of macrobiotics, she found herself exhausted by the grind in the metropolis. Hungering for a brand new start, and a place free of worry – more true to her ideals – she happened upon the stretch of land that would become Brown’s Field. Her father’s grave situated nearby infused her with a sense of peace and, thus, she’s lived there ever since.
When asked about her motivation, “Deko-san” – as Ms. Nakajima is popularly known – explains that although, in recent times, one may find vegan and vegetarian fare in Japan, little was known about macrobiotics forty years ago; when she started on her self-appointed mission. In decades past, she often felt that practicing a macrobiotic life in Tokyo proved prohibitive. As a result, she now runs Brown’s Field as a sanctuary for those on that path who feel hampered by uneasiness or difficulties.
Also, running this center facilitates her desire to eat ingredients grown seasonally, without modifications; the ability to eat ingredients themselves in their whole and natural states. And, although not always possible, Brown’s Field attempts to grow all their own food; and to use local ingredients whenever this is not feasible. According to the macrobiotic concept of Shindo-fuji, the human body and the Earth cannot be separated; being connected by nature. Yuki-san, Brown’s Field’s official chef, says, “I try to use various seasonings, so those receiving food may enjoy various tastes. And, also, I like serving people, so I imagine how I’ll serve the meals while I am cooking.” Deko-san believes that macrobiotics is not just about cooking, but rather a philosophy that values health, economy, and eco-friendliness, with an ultimate aim towards world peace. Empathizing with those ideals, she embarked on related studies, and then started to spread the macrobiotic way of life.
While designing the spaces that make up their premises, Brown’s Field’s Deko-san possesses the clearest of visions. Placing value on vintage and antique designs that have withstood the test of time, she also tries to bear in mind a sense of modern style. She says she wants to enjoy life by realizing the idiom”Onko-chishin”; literally meaning “to preserve old things and, by doing so, knowing new things,” or “to put ancient knowledge into practice in modern times”.
Shogo Miura, a Tokyo native working at Brown’s Field, shares his own story of how he came into this lifestyle. “I attended college in the state of Washington (in the United States), and then worked for a Japanese airline in Seattle, WA., but I didn’t care for that life. So, I quit my day job, and then took on the challenge of being a farmhand on Orcas Island. It was similar to the life that I would come to live here (at Brown’s Field). I spent time interacting with various people, feeling nature, and learning about agricultural work, and farming culture as well.” Then, one day, one of his friends recommended that he visit Brown’s Field, and so he decided to return to the land of his birth. “I came here on a trial basis,” Shogo states pensively, “but was attracted to this land immediately, and became an official member of staff. I am inspired by the joy of connecting with nature, as well as with people. And, I follow in the footsteps of my seniors of the area. While working, I also feel self-growth. I want to take advantage of said growth and the connections I garner, so that I may start my own rice farm – here or back in the United States – and keep belonging to a community that I would support and cherish, in the future.”
Although, at the outset, this experience may seem forbidding or daunting at the very least, Brown’s Field aims to make it easy to dip one’s toes into their world. Visitors can experience the full work they need to put in, in order to build a life in a place like Brown’s Field. You can partake in various skillsets such as farming, cooking, and manufacturing, or even making crafts. Visitors are not treated as a part of the clientele, but rather work like regular staff. However, should one want a rest, that option is available; should you want to go to town or down to the sea, for example. Guests exist as a middle ground between the staff and customers. A modest fee of thirty-six-thousand yen (less than three-hundred American dollars) earns you a five-day “workation,” including accommodation, meals, and activities. And, as a measure of respecting one’s privacy, visitors sleep in respective cottages. Those staying six months or more may acquire tuition in sustainability; through experiences such as the transformation of soybeans into comestible goods; like miso and soy sauce. Brown’s Field’s guests receive unmitigated immersion into Japanese culture; foreign visitors only make up ten to twenty percent of their clientele, and the number of guests at any time is limited to five; assuring you one-on-one tuition, without fear of swimming in a sea of one’s countrymen. Additionally, although rather far from the beaten path, access to this experience need not be problematic; Brown’s Field’s staff will offer you a ride from Choja-machi Station (on the JR Sotobo Line) for a small fee of one-thousand yen; less than ten American dollars.
1501-1 Kuwada, Misakicho, Isumi City
(10 minutes by car from JR Sotobo Line, Chojamachi Station)