fbpx
    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Outdoor Japan Organic Market Online

        Market Watch: Summer Organics Delivered

        Go online shopping for organic vegetables and support local farmers throughout Japan.
    • Autumn
      • video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Winter
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • hiroshima skiing osorakan snow parkvideo

        Hiroshima Skiing at Osorakan Snow Park

        Enjoy skiing and snowboarding just an hour from Hiroshima at Osorakan Snow Park. Every winter, people from Kansai and Kyushu flock to one of the region’s most popular ski resorts for winter fun.
    • Travel
      • Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Organic Market Online

        Market Watch: Summer Organics Delivered

        Go online shopping for organic vegetables and support local farmers throughout Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

        Honey Business in Tokushima

        Honeybees at Kodo Bee Farm thrive in Tokushima's rich nature and contribute to the local ecosystem while producing delicious honey.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Organic Market Online

        Market Watch: Summer Organics Delivered

        Go online shopping for organic vegetables and support local farmers throughout Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

        Honey Business in Tokushima

        Honeybees at Kodo Bee Farm thrive in Tokushima's rich nature and contribute to the local ecosystem while producing delicious honey.
    • Races and Events
      • Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.
        summer events omm lite and bike hakuba

        2021 Summer Events and Races in Japan

        Check out upcoming events and races held throughout Japan this summer and early fall.

Honey Business in Tokushima

Honey Business Kodo Bee Farm

Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

Children in Japan love bugs. Pairs of kids running around neighborhoods with insect nets and clear plastic boxes hanging around their necks is not an uncommon sight each summer. Growing up in Kumamoto, Akinori Kai was no different. What sets him apart is he turned his passion for bugs into a buzzing business—the Kodo Bee Farm in Tokushima.

The Yoshinogawa flows deep through the mountains in Tokushima Prefecture, meandering through small towns and rice fields and squeezing through beautiful gorges. The river finally reaches the sea where nearby beaches famously attract surfers. It’s a beautiful natural environment and a place where traditions such as indigo tie dye fabrics and awa dancing in summer can still be found. 

Akinori Kai spent a lot of time outdoors growing up in Kyushu. When he graduated from university he worked at a sporting goods store for a year and a half, but realized he wanted to be in the outdoors, not working in a shop. 

“I really love all kinds of insects so after I quit the sports shop, I looked for a job related to insects. My first option was a silkworm farm, but business didn’t seem very good so I started to learn about beekeeping,” he says. 

Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

Aki found a job with a large beekeeping company in his hometown in Kumamoto. He worked there for a year and then did beekeeping in Hokkaido for four months before setting up his own apiary in Tokushima: Kodo Bee Farm.

Every year the Yoshinogawa spills over into the low fields creating rich soil and spreading wild flower seeds. Honeybees thrive in this environment.

“The floods can also destroy the beehives so I must move mine from the riverside to the mountains before flood season each year. The river is a risk and reward for me and other farmers—like the Nile River in ancient Egypt. It’s an unpredictable and beautiful natural place,” he says.

He studied English in the Philippines to prepare himself for travels abroad to do research and learn new beekeeping techniques. “Malaysian and Russian beekeeping was particularly interesting,” he says. “I need to go again.”

He’s also found a way to bring the world to him in Tokushima where he regularly hosts volunteers who come to learn about beekeeping and help out with the easier tasks like harvesting honey. It’s also important to check inside of the hives and make sure the queen bee is healthy so colonies are growing.

Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

“Visitors seem to enjoy their time here because beekeeping is such an unusual thing for most of them,” he says. 

Kodo Bee Farm keeps more than 150 colonies of European honey bees in Tokushima, which he manages by himself and with two or more volunteers. The main job is taking care of all the bee colonies that produce the honey, which he sells at about 60 supermarkets, mainly in Osaka.

Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

“One bee colony contains around 10,000 worker bees, and I have more than 150 colonies. So I’ve got about 1,500,000 workers. Sounds like a big company, don’t you think?” he jokes.

While it sounds like a lot of bees, many farmers in Japan want to buy bee colonies, but there simply aren’t enough on the market. Demand is much larger than supply right now.

Kodo’s European bees are Italian. Most beekeepers around the world favor Italian bees because they are great at producing honey. When working with the bees he usually wears a jumpsuit and net, which protects his head. Nearly all beekeepers also wear gloves to avoid getting stung on their hands, but Aki chooses to forgo the protection.

“I work faster barehanded,” he states. “Yes, I usually get stung more than 10 times each day, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s my job.”

Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

It took a while for him to get used to the stings. When he first started, his hands swelled up like balloons each day. His co-workers at his first beekeeping company required him to keep working even when his hands hurt. This was difficult for a novice he remembers, but the experience made him a tougher beekeeper. 

“Kodo” (黄道) means ‘ecliptic.’ Bees are constantly locating the sun in relation to the ecliptic plane to determine the direction to the flower fields, and they share the information with other worker bees. 

“It is amazing these small insects have such an advanced brain and communication system. I was so impressed by this, I named my business Kodo Bee Farm,” he says.

Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

Bees are incredibly important to the health of local ecosystems. Strawberries, tomatoes, melon and many other fruits and vegetables rely on pollination to grow. Flowers and plants naturally increase in local environments where bee colonies are present. And it doesn’t hurt to have access to fresh, delicious honey.

Tokushima has many hidden gems for active travelers. There’s great hiking on Mt. Tsurugi, whitewater rafting on the Yoshinogawa and cycling and motorcycling in the Iya Valley. Kodo Bee Farm is helping add to the natural beauty of the area and travelers interested in learning about bee farming can contact Aki by e-mail, through Kodo Bee Farm’s Facebook page or visit his Workaway page to volunteer. May, June, September and October are the busy seasons for harvesting honey.

Honey Business Kodo Bee Farm

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Categories