Visit Umaji Village in Kochi Prefecture. Umaji is Uma (horse) plus ji (road). It means we must reach Umaji by horse. But it is old story. Now we can enjoy smooth car drive to Umaji even though the road is narrow and winding.
Umaji, whose population is 930 persons, is now famous as success case of local revitalization by processing of yuzu, very good smelling citrus. JA Umaji has 5 factories to process many kinds of yuzu goods, as yuzu drink, yuzu ponzu source, yuzu jam, yuzu chili, yuzu pepper, yuzu liqueur, yuzu cosmetics, yuzu ‘aromatics, and so on. Yuzu seed becomes good material for cosmetics.
Amazing, isn’t it? Only 930-populated tiny village in mountainous area has 5 factories. Most of products are sold through mail order or internet to all areas in Japan, with increasing the number of fans of Umaji. Umaji offers the status of special villager to those fans.
This has been promoted by JA Umaji. JA Umaji has its very unique and impressive business model to revive tiny mountainous village, through the integration of production of yuzu, processing, and marketing.
However, as other villages in Japan, Umaji also faces to depopulation and aging. How is the way to satisfy with increasing market demand for yuzu products under decreasing of labor? Mechanization is one of the answer with 5 factories. But, is it sustainable in the future? Is it overcapacity or not?
The challenge of Umaji will be severer.