Aya, Sustainable Community in South Kyushu
Posted by Taro Kobayashi on 7th Jun 2019
Aya (綾) is a picturesque sustainable organic farming community of 7,053 inhabitants (2019) located about 20 kilometers from our hometown of Miyazaki in south Kyushu island.
It is nestled between two clean, beautiful rivers and ringed by emerald-green forests of oak, sugi (cedar) and wild yabu-tsubaki camellias, which every winter provide the seeds for our Aya Camellia oil.
About 650 years ago, lord Yoshito Hosokawa built the Aya castle, as a fortress to guard the area against intrusions of the formidable Shimazu clan. Centuries went by. Aya remained a peaceful, agrarian haven nestled in the lush green highlands of Miyazaki.
Forty years ago, the townspeople began a concerted effort to promote sustainability and organic farming. They adopted a green constitution for Aya, with one of the tightest recycling policies anywhere in Japan and made the town's motto "Harmonious Coexistence Between Humans and Nature", established the Aya Forestry Ecosystem Protected Area, turned vast swaths of forests into protected reserves, halted industrial development, and encouraged traditional craftsmen and artisans to set up shop.
In 2012, the town established the Aya Biosphere Reserve under the auspices of UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, harboring one of Japan's biggest subtropical evergreen and hardwood laurel forests.