The Lion's Rear

Will this plan to revitalize a Japanese tea town work? - YouTube


alternate title: my monthly "i could sell all my shit and move to wazuka and learn to grow tea" was triggered today

This Video by Life Where I'm From describes one of the solutions to aging/depopulation of rural Japan and particularly a part of Japan which is already dear to me: the small Tea growing region of Wazuka.

The video centers on another tea farm in the region which runs shops and sells internationally called d:matcha run by outsiders to the region. There are interviews with some of the locals of Wazuka and some other tea producers in the area and I think it is really quite an interesting thing.

It is also a thing I still feel called towards. For the last few years as my Tea Practice has developed I feel drawn to Sencha Tea and dream of Opening a Tea Shop, and of helping to support this village where the tea I love is produced.

This village of 3500 is where Kyoto Obubu Tea Farm is located, and I have been enamored with them and their tea and their place since I visited Japan in 2018 with my friend Jane. Obubu offers/asks at the end of the tour for visitors to become patrons to the farm through their "tea club" program, but I feel compelled to do more, I want to Intern/Apprentice with them and build my craft and get my fingers in the soil and learn to produce and sell tea.

Why shouldn't I? What's the worst that could happen? That I end up an outsider among outsiders, outside of my skill and comfort level in a town 8 timezones away from everyone I love? That I turn yet another passion of mine in to a product, strip mine my joy for profit, and be left with another husk of a hobby? If I do ever want to Open a Tea Shop, I feel like it's natural that I would spend time in Japan learning how to product and sell it, or at least to immerse myself more deeply in to my Japanese Study so that I have access to more resources and knowledge which have not been translated to English.

Maybe it's just because old Uber Experiences are in the news again, but I am sitting here thinking about how it's been nearly 3 years since I left Uber and I still have ~0 interest in working for "real" tech companies, or working full time, or performing Software Engineering or management or anything but greenfield research and "Hey Smell This". I still cannot justify working for ad-tech funded companies nor Venture Capital Startup grifters. The work on Data Rights Protocol and my Privacy and Data Rights research and more broadly working founder philanthropic public interest tech funded by the CR Digital Lab is interesting and fulfilling but starts to feel Sisyphean. Why would this be any different? How could honest farm work and selling something created with my own hands possible be the same?

Why shouldn't I find out?

Some of this also flows from my recent visit to Vancouver, BC, where I Brewed with a fellow who works for Vancha, a white guy who is "more Chinese" than many of his clients because he's care about and cared for this careful old culture of his. It's a fine line between appropriation and assimilation and intuition I think, but I think I could walk it well enough.