Booklet by Ryoji Kikura, Honorary Townsman of Hokuryu Town, "Food is Life (Inochi), Inochi (Life), Food, Environment and Livelihood in Hokuryu Town to Protect and Nurture".

March 31, 2023 (Friday)

The full text of the 24-page, A4 color booklet "Ryoji Kikura: Food is Life" was distributed to participants at the celebration for Ryoji Kikura, the fifth Hokuryu honorary town resident in 31 years, held at Sunflower Park Hokuryu Onsen on Saturday, March 25, 2012.


Table of Contents


Date of birth: June 1, 1939
Current address: Aza Itaya, Hokuryu-cho, Amaryu-gun, Hokkaido
Second son of father Haruyoshi and mother Hisago

academic background

Shinryu Elementary School
Hokuryu Junior High School
Hokkaido Hokuryu High School

Organizational History

Jan. 1971-Jan. 1972 Deputy Director of Youth Department, Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, Hokuryu Town
January 1972-January 1973 Same as above Director of Youth Department
March 1973 - March 1985 Same as above Director
Deputy General Manager of the Union March 1985 - March 1990 Same as above
Mar. 1990 - Mar. 1991 Executive Managing Director
Mar. 1991-Jan. 2000 Representative Director and President of the Association
February 2000-June 2002 Kitaro Sorachi Agricultural Cooperative Association
                           managing director
June 2002-April 2007 Same as above Representative Director and President of the Association

Related Organizations

Director, North Sorachi Agricultural Mutual Aid Association, April 1976-May 1998
Member, Hokuryu Town Agricultural Committee, June 1976-May 1998
Director, Hokkaido Agricultural Development Corporation (June 1996-June 1999)

Organization History

February 1964 Joined the Hokuryu-cho Fire Company.
January 1973-December 1980 Same as above, 1st Group Leader
Jan. 1980-Mar. 1988 Director of the 1st Division
Member of the Hokuryu Town Physical Education Committee, Aug. 1964-Mar. 1976
Apr. 1973-Mar. 1991 Vice President, Hokuryu Town Athletic Association
Apr. 1991-Present Advisor to the above
Hokkaido Organic Agriculture Research Association
                          Director, Audit Director
Apr. 1991 - May 2001 Director, Hokuryu Promotion Public Corporation

winning (a prize)

May 1971 Commendation under the Hokuryu Town Commendation Ordinance (for distinguished sports service) Hokuryu Town
July 1991 Hokuryu-cho Athletic Association Meritorious Service Award Hokuryu-cho Athletic Association
May 2002 Commendation in commemoration of the 110th anniversary of the opening of Hokuryu Town (Person of Special Merit) Hokuryu Town
Hokkaido Industrial Contribution Award for Agriculture, January 2006 Hokkaido
December 2022 Honorary citizen of Hokuryu Town

Etai-betsu Dam Lake in summer
Lake Huetabetsu Dam in winter

The red-hot peasant period

The Kikura family settled on Itaya Farm in 1926, in a small field of 183 rice paddies in a 3-machi, 8-kan area.
Ryoji Kikura is the second son of six siblings (four boys and two twin girls) and grew up in an environment of poverty, where his mother could not breastfeed him.

Elementary school days with rickets

He entered Manryu Elementary School in April 1946. Due to his frail constitution, his back was crooked when he entered elementary school and he was diagnosed with rickets, a disease caused by malnutrition.

At elementary school, each student brought his or her own lunch. Ryoji's lunch was not white rice, but barley, millet, or other wheat rice with a side dish of pickled greens.
In the latter half of his third year, he finally became able to eat white rice.

At that time, his grandparents raised an abandoned cow that they had acquired from an acquaintance. In order to protect the lives of their grandchildren, they squeezed the raw milk of the cows they raised on the weeds and gave it to Ryoji to drink.
Ryoji's internal organs were strong and he never had gastrointestinal problems from raw milk.

昭和21年(1946年)3月真竜小学校入学前 左:兄 右:良二さん 栄養失調「くる病」
Before entering Manryu Elementary School in March 1946
Left: Brother, Right: Ryoji Malnutrition "rickets

Food is the origin of life

After she started drinking raw milk as a calcium supplement, her health gradually improved from the 4th and 5th grade of elementary school.
In middle school, he was first and second in the clown race. By the time he was in high school, his back had recovered to the point that it was almost unrecognizable. Ryoji says, "I am healthy today because of my grandma and grandpa.

He says that the experience of his sickly body as an infant made him realize firsthand how important natural food is. For Ryoji, his childhood experience was the starting point of his belief that "food is life.

Middle school students working on a farm in the afternoon.

In junior high school, he used his older brother's hand-me-down textbooks. In the spring, I helped with rice planting, pushing the weeder (8 hectares), and hand weeding, and in the fall, I helped with harvesting, shearing, unloading, and threshing rice.

At the time, there were five students who were unable to participate in the June school trip. In addition to not being able to participate in the school trip, they went to Manryu Elementary School to cut firewood.

When I was to receive my diploma as the valedictorian (representing 121 graduates) at the graduation ceremony of my third year at Hokuryu Junior High School, I did not have a school uniform, so I borrowed my teacher's old school uniform to go on stage. Instead of athletic shoes, I cut off my boots and wore them.

No matter how poor they were, their feelings were never tormented or distorted. Above all, there was no "bullying.

Of the 121 graduates, only about 6 students enrolled in full-day high school, and about 3 students went on to college. This was a time when the number of students who could go on to higher education was quite small.

Participated in a junior high school speech contest

In September of his junior year, an all-school speech contest was held and a total of nine students from all grades participated. Ryoji volunteered to participate. At the time, he had something he really wanted to say. The title of his speech was "Never Repeat the Tragedy of the Atomic Bombing (5 pages of manuscript paper).

I wanted to make a strong appeal to the people of Japan: "Nine years after the atomic bombing of Japan, fishing boats were damaged by the test at Bikini Atoll, and fishermen were killed. I wanted to make a strong appeal to the people of Japan.

He went to the podium, shaking off his homeroom teacher's advice to show him the manuscript in advance so that he could check its contents before he gave his presentation! I declared that I would not participate in the event if I had to show it to him and have it corrected.

As a result, Ryoji's speech was not awarded the prize, as it was critiqued by Mr. Asano, the vice principal of the school, who said, "Ryoji-san's speech is too difficult for a junior high school student.

December of his junior year when he was advised to leave farming.

While living in a family of 12 (grandfather, grandmother, parents, two uncles, and six siblings) at the time, he received a recommendation from the agricultural cooperative to leave farming. The eldest brother went to Sapporo to work as an apprentice carpenter and builder after being advised to leave the farm.

Knowing the situation of the Kikura family with an ailing mother and heavy debts from the agricultural cooperative, Mr. Mitsuo Goto advised them to leave Ryoji behind and continue farming.

Mr. Goto promised, "If you continue farming, I will put my stamp of guarantee on the purchase of fertilizers 'ammonium sulfate, superphosphate lime, and salt' necessary for farming.

Being poor is nothing to be ashamed of.

Agriculture in those days was the age of the horse-drawn sleigh. Oats were an important food for horses to keep them from getting leggy during the winter.
Ryoji's father asked him to buy three bales of oats, and he went to the farmers' cooperative without any money because he had to pay with agricultural bills.
The cooperative staff loaded the carts with oats, but when they learned that the farmers had no cash, they unloaded the oats from the carts, saying, "If we don't have the money, we can't sell them.

If the horses are not fed oats, they will become leggy and unable to move, and will not be able to farm in the spring. Ryoji heads home in tears.

Mr. Kiyomatsu Sugimoto, a legitimate bakuro (horse trader) who lived next door and watched over the situation, brought me a one-dozen (18-liter) can of lime (carbide).

In the barn, spend a day digging a hole large enough to fill two half-cut oil drums, fill it with straw, and tread on it often. After two days, the straw is fed to the horses, which are able to plow the rice fields in the spring without getting leggy. Thanks to Mr. Bakuro and Mr. Sugimoto, the horses were able to survive the spring. In this way, they were able to protect their small rice field of 183 sheets in 3 townships and 8 rice paddies.

The rice paddies are in very bad condition, with uneven terrain, labor-intensive work, and inefficient production. Despite these conditions, Ryoji says he never had the slightest negative feeling of "why should I farm under such bad conditions?

At the time, Mr. Mitsuo Goto told me, "Being poor is nothing to be ashamed of. It is more shameful to fall down. It is shameful to be a nuisance to those who helped you or guaranteed to help you. Be patient, work and pay your debts! Being poor is nothing to be ashamed of!" .

When I graduated from Hokuryu High School with little attendance

Entered "Hokuryu High School" established by Mr. Mitsuo Goto's consideration (high school with intensive winter classes and many days off during the farmer's busy season).

In March of his second year of high school, Ryokichi Takebe, the principal of the school, sent him a notice stating that he would not be retained due to lack of attendance.

When Mr. Mitsuo Goto, Superintendent of Education, learned of this, he asked the principal, "Do you see the students' way of life? It is a precious thing to be able to learn in school how to do so much work. What is the matter with you, imposing on students a grade of retention for lack of attendance as farm help!" He gets angry. As a result, he was able to stay in school until his senior year and graduate.
Although he was hardly able to attend and study in high school, no one ever complained or slandered him. Ryoji says, "I feel that this was because everyone understood me, seeing the way I worked harder than anyone else in the fields.

In the early fall of his senior year of high school, two friends who had hoped to join the Self-Defense Forces flew to Ryoji's farm in tears and said, "We wanted to join the Self-Defense Forces, but the school said they could not recommend us! Ryo-chan, do something!" They said, "Ryo-chan, do something!

Ryoji felt that this was unacceptable, and as a working student, he wrote on the blackboard in his classroom "Ten Articles of Reform and the Role of the Hokuryu Tentative High School," to which he added, "Those who agree with these articles must close the school tomorrow! and wrote, "Those who agree with these ten articles, close school tomorrow! Ryoji declared to everyone, "I will submit these 10 articles to the school and take responsibility on my own, so don't worry! I will take responsibility by myself, so don't worry!

Those who were absent were called to assemble in the dormitory in front of the Manryu Elementary School. The principal, vice principal, and homeroom teacher rushed upstairs where everyone had assembled.

The principal said, "I acknowledge what is written on the blackboard and accept your recommendation to join the Self-Defense Forces. If the school is closed, you will all be punished, so if you come to school now, we will not question you," said the principal.

As a result, the recommendation to the SDF was made, but the punishment in the Alliance School Suspension was imposed, and Ryoji was expelled from school.

The principal, vice principal, and homeroom teacher brought the "Ten Articles that the Hokuryu Tentative High School will fulfill" written by Ryoji to report this matter to Mr. Futao Goto, Superintendent of Education 8.

Education Director Goto said, "This is ridiculous! What is the matter with you that you expelled Ryoji Kikura, who appealed not to recommend him to the Self-Defense Forces because of a lack of class days!" He was furious.

Thus, Ryoji was able to avoid expulsion and graduate from high school. They both received the recommendation of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, passed the exam without incident, and fulfilled their duties with distinction.

ears of rice growing in abundance

Joined the fire brigade at age 20

This was a time when the best young men were selected to be firefighters. Ryoji was recommended and joined the company when he was 20 years old.

At the time, most firefighters owned motorcycles or cars, but Ryoji was the only one who rode a bicycle.

The father took pity on him and went to Mr. Goto, the head of the agricultural cooperative, and asked him if he could somehow give his son a 50cc motorcycle, even though he was in debt. The next day, Ryoji was summoned by Mr. Goto, the head of the cooperative, and in front of everyone he shouted at him in a broken voice, "Idiot! He shouted at him in a broken voice in front of everyone.

You, what's this I hear about firemen wanting motorcycles? Why do we need 60 firemen? You don't know what that means! We can't all go out at the same time; some people rush to the scene as soon as the sirens go off, and others take their time! That is why we have 30 members in each division.

What's so embarrassing about your bike? Why don't you just be last? Just help clean up afterwards!
Do not be ashamed to be poor! Poor people fall down wanting this and wanting that. Be patient! Work! Falling down is the most shameful thing!
I put my guarantee stamp on you. You're not bothering me like that! Mr. Goto, the union president, scolded in a loud voice.

Ryoji himself could not say that he had never said a word about such a thing to his parents, and feeling ashamed, he said, "I am sorry! I don't want a motorcycle. I will buy it when I can afford it," he apologized solemnly.
I get it! Go home! Go back to work!" Goto's voice echoed through the office.

北竜消防団創立100周年記念式典・演習 2013
Hokuryu Fire Company 100th Anniversary Ceremony and Exercise 2013
北竜消防団第71回 北空知消防連合演習
Hokuryu Fire Brigade 71st North Sorachi Firefighting Union Exercise 2019

Wonderful connections are being made.

Finally, "Ryoji, wait a minute!" He called out.
Ryoji, there are people who see you working hard, and they will definitely help you someday. That person will tell good people about Ryoji's hard work and introduce him to even better people, and a wonderful relationship will be formed. That's what work is all about! Ryoji left with tears in his eyes, taking in the words of Mr. Goto, the union president.

Don't ask for position, honor, or money.

Mr. Mitsuo Goto was born in Uryu Village from 1898 to 1980. He is the fifth head of the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative Association (hereinafter referred to as "Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative"), and served as its head for six terms of 18 years, starting in 1955.

On November 2, 1972, the year before Mr. Mitsuo Goto retired. Ryoji and Toru Goto (son of Mitsuo Goto) were summoned to the room by Mr. Goto.

Mr. Goto said, "I will step down as head of the cooperative at the general meeting on March 12 next year (1973). I had hoped to nominate Toshihiro Nakamura, a carpenter who raised his family debt-free, a cultural figure who participated in the agricultural cooperative movement, and a former member of the Hokuryu Town Council. However, there is a movement led by the youth section of the agricultural cooperative to appoint a young man as a board member. You are the candidate, and I am not against it. However, I have to tell you something. Remember it.

Don't waste your allowance. Don't spend money on fun. When you have money saved up, buy books first. Knowledge will become flesh and blood in the future.

In the future, food will eventually run out. Think about this, practice it in your own farming, and make a business plan for the agricultural cooperative (at this time, there was a surplus of rice, and crop rotation had begun).

Don't seek "status, honor, and money. This is important. If you are an officer of an agricultural cooperative, you will eventually encounter this. Be prepared to deal with it decisively at that time.

The world's opinion of you will show up 10 years after you leave your position as head of the cooperative. An agricultural cooperative does not belong to its officers, it does not belong to its employees, it belongs to its members. Make sure you get back to that. Whenever you are in doubt about a problem, think about what you can do to help the members. Follow the answer that comes out of that," he said.

Mr. Mitsuo Goto told his son Toru, "Ryoji will not be able to drink at home, so let him have one glass of sake and then send him home. After Mr. Goto finished his story, Toru-san would always offer Ryoji a little less than a cup of sake, and he would chew up and summarize his father's story.

You know what my father means. The meaning of 'the loss of rice' is not 'the amount of rice. If the high economic growth continues, the agriculture that we put our hands to will disappear as a result. If the high economic growth continues, the result will be the loss of the agriculture that we have spent so much time and effort on, and the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and everything else that goes into mass-production. My father is saying that it will no longer be 'food to eat. That is why, Ryo-chan, let's do natural farming together!" Toru said.

天と地と水左より:後藤三男八 翁、北政清 翁、加地彦太郎 翁
Heaven, Earth and Water, from left: Mr. Mitsuhachi Goto, Mr. Kiyoshi Kita Masakiyo, Mr. Hikotaro Kaji

Practice of natural farming, over 500 lectures in about 50 years

These thoughts of Mitsuo Goto became the foundation for the direction of Ryoji's later life, and this is where Toru and Ryoji's challenge of natural farming began.

At that time, there were two types of natural farming methods: Mokichi Okada's "no herbicide, no pesticide, no chemical fertilizer" and Masanobu Fukuoka's "no use of anything, just scattering seeds and no weeds. The two worked with Mokichi Okada's natural farming method.

He began natural farming in 1973, but in the first year, he was only able to harvest about four bales per hectare. The yield was low, about half that of conventional farming, but the growth of the rice was vigorous.

The "Rice Planting Ceremony" was held at this naturally farmed rice field, where officials of the Hokuryu Town Sports Association gathered to pray for a good harvest and share a toast after planting the rice by hand.
The rice field in front of Ryoji's house, where he started natural farming at that time, has been passed on to his son and daughter-in-law, Masayasu and Keiko Kikura, over 50 years later.

Hearing that he had started natural farming in Hokuryu Town, many people from Sapporo City came to visit him. They were invited to his home, where his wife Masako served sushi, shared sake, and talked about agriculture with them.

Around 1975 (Showa 50), he began teaching natural farming among the people of the World Salvationist Church.

 His lectures on agriculture have continued, and to date he has given 522 lectures over the past 48 years.

He continues to talk about "food is life.

Ryoji Koukura, Natural Farming
自然農法田 除草機作業(昭和48年・1973年6月中旬)
Weeder work in a naturally farmed rice field (mid-June, 1973)

The Secret Story of the Construction of a Cold Storage Warehouse before the Agricultural Cooperative Merger

The period when the modernization project was implementing subsidized projects. The head of the Hokuryu-cho Agricultural Cooperative, Mitsuo Goto Hachi, was most concerned about collusion with contractors and collusion among employees.

In 1993, the worst postwar cold spell hit the town. In 1995, the Food Control Law was repealed after 53 years. As the area of rice paddies increased and the amount of rice shipped increased due to improved cultivation techniques, new agricultural warehouses were required to maintain the high quality flavor of the stored rice.

Taking into consideration the future merger of the North Sorachi Agricultural Cooperative, efforts have been made to construct low-temperature warehouses to store and manage rice. The biggest challenge was the construction of two cold storage warehouses that could hold 150,000 bales of rice by the time of the merger.

At the time, the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative was in dire financial straits and could not impose an additional burden on its members for the construction of the warehouse. Mr. Kikura decided to do his utmost to keep the construction costs low.

Then, when the first warehouse was built, eight companies (seven in Kita Sorachi and Ishizuka Kensetsu Kogyo in Wakkanai City) participated in the bidding process.
When a pre-bid meeting was held with Hokuren and others, Union President Kikura approached the construction firms for 58% of the estimated construction price. The participants then called him out for being out of line. Union President Kikura insisted that 58% was the maximum figure, as he could not put any more burden on the union members.

Mr. Kikura continued, "Currently, the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative is in a very difficult situation. However, we are not making reckless demands this time. When we asked my brother, who runs a construction business in Hamamatsu City, to design the project and estimate the construction cost, the figure he came up with was 50%. He responded that 53% would be sufficient to make a profit if the building was built to Hokkaido specifications. I did not ask for a lower price because of a lack of money. I have a fair price that is profitable for everyone," said Mr. Kikura.

As a final result, Ishizuka Kensetsu Kogyo, which offered the lowest bid price, remained and, after consultation, declared, "Let us do it at 53.8%," and the decision was made.

When the second cold storage warehouse was built, Nishide Kensetsu Sapporo Branch joined the project and offered to take the project for 58.2% of the total cost, and the decision was made.

Start of Hokkaido rice consumption campaign with the Co-op and Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative

In the late 1975's, the "Hokkaido Rice Consumption Expansion Movement," a rice tie-up between "Coop Sapporo (Sapporo Citizens Co-op)" and Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, began.

In his speech, President Kikura asserted that the basis of cooperatives is "the bond of life through production and consumption partnerships and the bridge of life through production and consumption partnerships (the basis of cooperatives is to deepen the bond of life and the bridge of life between producers and consumers).

In order to actively promote exchange of rice production areas between Co-op Sapporo and Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, members of Co-op Sapporo were invited by bus to Hokuryu Town.

First, they toured the life-giving source of water, the Huetabetsu Dam, saw the water in the rice paddies and the rice and melon fields, and in the evening had a reception with the youth and women's clubs.

The most common comment in the survey during the visit was "hope for safe food production.

Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, Youth and Women's Clubs Stand Up for Safe Food Production

This is where the youth of the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative Youth Club rose up to take on the challenge of producing safe food without the use of herbicides.

In 1988, members of the women's and youth clubs of the agricultural cooperative proposed to hold a "Hokuryu Town Farmers' Meeting on Safe Food Production" instead of participating in the rice price demand conventions that were being held nationwide at the time.

The youths' desire to hold a rally to meet the consumers' demand to "produce safe food" through interaction with them, rather than demanding rice prices, was a proposal that would go down in history.

Union President Kikura said, "If there is opposition at the meeting, don't worry, because I will explain the great significance of the proposal!" He called out to the audience.

At the meeting, when a young man from the youth section read out the first proposal, one union member (83 years old) said, "Oh, you guys should try it! I'll support you.

The proposal was unanimously approved and resolved. As a practical activity, it was decided to implement a 10% reduction in pesticide use.

In 1989, "Kirara 397," organic, pesticide-free rice, was marketed throughout the country as the Himawari Rice brand.

The town united to declare itself "a town of safe food production that protects the lives and health of the people.

In 1990, the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative took the lead, and with the idea that "food is life," the family joined forces to make "protecting and nurturing life, food, the environment, and livelihood" their top priority by putting their hands, skills, and heart (soul) into it.

On October 26, 1990, the Hokuryu Agricultural Committee (Chairman: Takashi Sawada) proclaimed the "Charter of the Hokuryu Agricultural Committee," "We will nurture the soil, nature and greenery, secure abundant water, and foster highly productive agriculture (producing safe food for humans) that will give our hometown dreams and hopes.

On November 22, 1990, the Hokuryu Land Improvement District (President Akira Namba) passed a resolution at a meeting of its general representatives that the district would work to nurture nature and greenery, secure clean water, and produce safe food under the theme of "A Rich Environment, Minoru no Rural Village.

On December 16, 1990, Mayor Shoichi Mori of Hokuryu Town proposed the Mayor's Proposal to the Town Council. The proposal was titled "Hokuryu-cho is a town that declares safe food production to protect the lives and health of the people.

The entire town of Hokuryu has come together to declare itself "a town of safe food production that protects the lives and health of the people.

Sisterhood with Himawari Agricultural Cooperative

Five agricultural cooperatives centered in Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture, merged in 1989 and named themselves Himawari. They deepened exchanges with Hokuryu Town. On August 5, 1991, at 2:00 p.m., a total of 90 people, including all the members of the Himawari Agricultural Cooperative, the mayor of Toyokawa, and the Toyokawa Tezutsu Fireworks Master with a 350-year tradition, visited the town to set up a venue in a field of sunflowers.
The signing ceremony of the sister city affiliation was solemnly held with the heads of each group, including Mayor Yamamoto of Hokuryu Town, the head of the association, and all officers and employees of the agricultural cooperative. The signing ceremony was celebrated with a solemn fireworks display. Since then, meaningful exchanges have continued.

black market trading of rice

Around 1993, when rice was rationed, the Sapporo Agricultural Administration Office took action against the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative for black market rice trading.

At the time, the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative was making black market deals with traders who were in need of rice at prices that would recognize the value of Hokuryu.

In 1994 (Heisei 6), a call came from the Sapporo Agricultural Administration Office to Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, Mr. Huang Kura, the cooperative's president.

In my office, the tax audit has produced documentary evidence. The documents were lined with the names of business partners with the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative. One of these suppliers had asked us, in tears, to share even a few bales of rice with them because they were in danger of closing their business due to lack of rice.

Once the tax audit documents were served, Mr. Kikura could not say anything and apologized with his hands in the air. After being reprimanded for a long time, "We'll get rid of you next time, so go home today!" and is slapped out of the office.

Later that day, I appeared at the office of the director of the Sapporo Agricultural Administration Office, Mr. Osumi. On the desk were documents for the suspension of the rice collection license and the financial suspension.
The chief of the Grand Residence said, "This is a problem. This will be the first time in Japan that we have ever had to dispose of a patient.

Union President Kikura: "Whatever the punishment may be, I will take full responsibility and resign.

The head of the big address, "You won't get away with this by quitting. If I stamp this stamp, Hokuryu Town will not be able to collect rice this year. Also, if I stamp the stamp of financial suspension, the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative's finance will be stopped. Do you know what will happen? The Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative will have to dissolve!" The Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative will be forced to dissolve!

The gravity of the situation made Mr. Kikura's mind go blank. After a few moments of still contemplation, Director Osumi opened his mouth.

You did well, but your business partners were all in trouble. Kunimare Brewery, in particular, might have had to close its brewery if not for this rice. You are to be commended for preventing these conditions and keeping the brewery connected.

It's not that your company made a special profit. The agricultural cooperatives of the future actually need to do this. This is the kind of reform that agricultural cooperatives will need. The head of the large housing complex was puzzled as to what to do.

After thinking about it, the Grand Warden said, "I quit!" I quit!

When Mr. Kikura heard these words, he burst into tears and could not stop them!
Asked how he came up with the idea, Union President Kikura replied, "I don't know."

He regained his composure and said, "I have always wanted to combine the 'campaign to protect the livelihood of the co-op' and the 'campaign to protect the lives of the agricultural cooperative,' while valuing our dealings with the co-op as a cooperative. With this in mind, we made the deal because we thought it was important to share rice with those in need, even though it was a black market transaction," responded Mr. Kikura.

'Yes, you are young, but you need to take care of these things. This is my responsibility to fix this, so I won't get rid of you!" I receive the grateful words of Director Osumi.

Mr. Huangkura, the union president, is overcome with emotion. The Hokuryu Agricultural Association was saved.

Director Osumi was then transferred to the Hiroshima Prefectural Office.

Speaker at symposium "Rice, the Japanese, and the Ise Jingu Shrine" organized by PHP Research Institute

In 1996, a symposium entitled "Rice, the Japanese, and the Ise Jingu Shrine" was held at the Ise Jingu Shrine, organized by the PHP Research Institute (Tokyo). Mr. Kikura, President of Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, spoke as a guest speaker and a member of the agricultural community from all over Japan. Mr. Toshiaki Kaminogo (Japanese journalist and nonfiction writer) served as moderator.

The eve of the event included a "Lecture by Haruo Sanba," in which Mr. Sanba spoke about "Japanese people and God, Japanese rice, and Ise Jingu Shrine" in his haori hakama, cheerfully and brilliantly without hesitation. Ryoji was moved by the value of Ise Shrine and the touching stories that were conveyed to his heart!

Symposium organized by HP Research Institute "Rice, Japanese and Ise Jingu Shrine" (1996)
With national enka singer Haruo Sanba

Encounter between Makoto (Tokyo, Japan), a lunch box and prepared food company, and Mr. Kikura, the union's president.

Mineko Yamazaki, president of Makoto Corporation (Tokyo), which sells the popular "Soraben" at Haneda Airport, was looking for good rice before 2000.

President Yamazaki was introduced to Hokuryu Town's Himawari Rice by an acquaintance as delicious Hokkaido rice, and visited Hokuryu Town where he met Mr. Kikura, the head of the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative.

On his first visit, President Yamazaki headed for Hokuryu Town in the winter of February. He was thrilled that Masao Fujisaki, then manager of the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, drove through the snow to JR Takikawa Station to pick him up.

When I arrived at the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, what caught my eye at the office was the message "Food is Life" posted on the wall. I realized that MAKOTO's company motto, "Food is Life," and the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative's goal are the same.

And President Yamazaki, who borrowed the restroom, was convinced that the Hokuryu-cho Agricultural Cooperative was in the same spirit as Mako by the words on the sign inside the restroom, "Refreshing restroom, more beautiful than when you came" and the actual cleanliness of the restroom.

When President Yamazaki wants to get a true picture of a potential business partner, he always borrows their restroom. When an employee of the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative asked President Yamazaki, "I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the toilets at the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative, I would love to talk to the head of the cooperative. Mr. Kikura immediately agreed.

President Yamazaki said, "The company we are currently dealing with has a problem with sparse rice and unstable taste. So, please let us take a look at the management situation and facilities at Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative," he pleaded. The head of the cooperative agreed to the request and immediately took him to the Nakahara Rice Shop (Hekisui, Hokuryu-cho).

At the Nakahara Rice Shop, thorough grinding and polishing was managed, and the factory was clean and well maintained.

After checking the grinding site, President Yamazaki was convinced and decided to do business with the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative on the spot. Thus began business with the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative.

Even today, overcoming numerous difficulties, the company continues to do business with the Hokuryu Branch of the Kitasorachi Agricultural Cooperative Association after the merger of the wide-area agricultural cooperatives.

Sunflower Village in Hokuryu Town in full bloom
天と地と水 そして農民の心(きたそらち農業協同組合北竜支所敷地内)
Heaven, Earth, Water, and Farmers' Hearts (on the premises of the Hokuryu Branch Office of the Kitasorachi Agricultural Cooperative Union)

Kitasorachi Agricultural Cooperative Association established through a wide-area merger (2000)

In 2000, eight agricultural cooperatives in Kita Sorachi merged to form the Kita Sorachi Agricultural Cooperative.

Prior to the merger, the Financial System Reform Law was enacted and enforced in 1992, when a capital adequacy ratio of 8% was introduced.

Ryoji believed that even if the Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative had the production capacity, it would be unable to maintain the organization due to its weak financial condition. He was also advised by Mr. Takashi Minamoto, a native of Hokuryu Town and Ryoji's mentor in deciphering financial statements, that it was time to consider a merger. Mr. Minamoto is a management specialist who served as the representative director of Honda Wheel and was a close friend of Mr. Soichiro Honda.

Regarding mergers, the Council on Merger Issues was established in 1992. Ryoji asserted, "In the future, the time will come when a single agricultural cooperative will not be able to cope with the world. If the agricultural cooperatives in Kita-Kuachi work together, we can have great financial and production power, so I would like to consider a merger," Ryoji insisted.

Ryoji says, "The merger of the agricultural cooperatives was necessary to strengthen the funds to protect our members, and I have no regrets."

The basis of the cooperative movement is to "protect and nurture life, food, the environment, and livelihood.

Ryoji concluded with the following words.

The world is at war and in turmoil. We lack goods, resources, and minds. Only the cooperative movement can enrich people's hearts and minds. From now on, the cooperative movement will save the world.

The predecessors of the town of Beiryu settled in the wilderness, cut trees, produced food, and formed an industrial cooperative. In the village of Hokuryu, they worked hard to protect and nurture life, and then to protect and nurture food. They have made efforts to protect their environment.

Protecting and nurturing life, food, the environment, and livelihood is the starting point of the agricultural cooperative movement. This applies to everything on earth.
The cooperative movement is needed in the world,

What we do to protect and nurture life."
What will you do to protect and nurture food?"
What we do to protect and nurture our environment."
What it takes to protect and nurture livelihoods."

Because it is fundamental for humanity to look at this," he said.

Successive Presidents of Hokuryu Agricultural Cooperative


Mr. and Mrs. Terauchi suggested that we publish a booklet about Mr. Kikura's life to date at the Hokuryu Town Honorary Citizens Celebration on Saturday, March 25, and on the afternoon of Thursday, March 9, we spent four and a half hours at their home.

In 1926, the Kikura family moved from Kamitokutomi Shiyubunnai (commonly known as "Bannosawa") in Shin Totsukawa Village, 20 km deep into the mountains in the direction of Zengo from Amaryu Town, to become tenant farmers at Itaya Farm and settled on the present site under the care of Masakiyo Kita and Mitsuo Goto.

Our large family of 12 people has lived from the extremes of red poverty to today, with the help of many people.

I am here today because of the teachings and support of Mr. Mitsuo Goto and his son Toru, and I have never forgotten their kindness. Although I am many laps behind, I will continue to follow the way of life of Mr. Mitsuo Goto and Mr. Toru.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Terauchi for their careful compilation of this booklet.

Ryoji Kikura

Ryoji Kikura, "Food is Life
March 25, 2023 First printing, March 31, 2023 Second printing
Author Ryoji Kikura
Publisher: Noboru Terauchi & Ikuko Terauchi, Community Support Workers, Hokuryu Town
Reference article Hokuryu Town Portal
     Celebration! Mr. Ryoji Kikura, Honorary Townsman of Hokuryu Town!
     The coronation ceremony was held at the Hokuryu Town Hall.

祝!黄倉良二氏 北竜町名誉町民!【北竜町ポータル】
Celebration! Mr. Ryoji Kikura, Honorary Town Citizen of Hokuryu Town! Hokuryu Portal

Booklet, "Food is Life (Inochi)" by Ryoji Kikura (26 pages, A4 size)

PDF Version(70MB)

Image (JPG) version


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◇ Photography and Editing: Noboru Terauchi Reporting and Writing: Ikuko Terauchi