The Path of a Wild Game Project That Reinvigorated a Local Meat Market
Address: 2098-1 Miwacho Kamiichi, Miyoshi, Hiroshima 729-6701
Kataoka Makoto is a chef who acquired a cooking license while working at a restaurant market in a rest stop for 6 years, when the rest stop was annexed he was entrusted with the management of the local food market, “Miwa 375”. At some point his father, a hunter, and local farmers who delivered products to the market told him about the crop pests and that’s when he started a game meat project. The game restaurant and pet foods made from game meat created new value for the local food market.
“Miwa 375” was opened as a local food market with an attached restaurant over 30 years ago when rest stops were still rare. Eventually it fell under private management upon annexation, and Kataoka was entrusted with the ownership. As he had a cooking license he took over the restaurant, and his senior, who ran a retail store, took control of the food market and that’s how the new establishment began. Their motto was “Make your town a lively one”, even so, they struggled to make it a better place. While they were running the restaurant, they started to bring local products to open markets and department stores to sell them. “Selling directly to customers is fun because you can see their reaction. We did it for a while so we became familiar with some customers and they started talking to us casually. We had considered opening an online store but we like telling customers the good things about the products directly.” While they were making an effort to sell the local products like that, Kataoka’s father, who was a hunter, told him about game animals. Kataoka had heard about how deer and wild boars were damaging the crops, but he had no idea about the details. He also learned how the exterminated animals’ meat wasn’t being utilized really well, “If I could use that meat for something it would help farmers and also become a new resource for the town.” was what Kataoka thought, so they went to many disposal facilities in Japan to investigate.
After visiting disposal facilities and talking to the people who are in charge of it, Kataoka found out that a business using game meat is actually pretty difficult to run. Some people eat the meat occasionally just because it’s a novelty, but not frequently. The quantity of meat is too much to reliably cook and serve at restaurants because of that. He also learned about how most of the internal organs and foul-smelling parts are not suitable for cooking. So, the idea he came up with was processing and selling it as pet food. To get a clearer picture of the idea he took part in a town hall workshop where people who love rural areas in Hiroshima could learn about livening up their town. Taught by people who were actively involved in town revitalization, he gained practical knowledge. In that class Kataoka met a manager of a dog park who he shared his idea of pet food with and got a good response. “A deer is a herbivore, so the meat is healthy and nourishing. It even contains DHA which is good for the brain and most kinds of meat don’t contain it at all. Wild animals’ meat is much safer than beef, pork and chicken that was raised with an antibiotic and hormone drug.” The more he researched, the more the idea of processing into pet food seemed better. At first he asked a disposal facility to process the meat, but once he was convinced of the steady demand, he established his own production facility. At the same time he got a hunting license which made it possible to hunt, butcher, and process everything himself.
There are about 10 kinds of jerky chips for sale, they’re all refrigerated, available in many shapes such as blocked, minced and sliced and some even include skin and bone. It all depends on what is in stock.
The processed pet food is also sold at both Miwa 375 and pet shops in the prefecture. Sometimes they are even sold at animal shelters or sports events for dogs as well. The fresh and high-quality parts are either sold frozen or used for various dishes at the restaurant. They have over 20 kinds of uncommon dishes including ramen, deep-fry cutlet and deep-fried meat all using game meat which are popular with tourists. Using premium cuts like fillet that can only be gotten from a few animals, the restaurant has become famous for its game dishes. “Farmers say the number of pests has decreased, and the customers who buy our pet food say their dogs like it which makes us really happy.”
“The game dishes are popular, too. The idea really killed two birds with one stone.” While running Miwa 375 is his main priority his company also sells processed pet food made from game meat and he even serves as the secretary of the local chamber of commerce. They try seeing things in a new way like holding events such as mowing and wood-chopping while carrying the words “Agriculture is a sport!” Kataoka also told us, “Change the useless into the useful and create new value. A rural area has a lot of possibilities for this. For example, trees and leaves and rocks. When you consider all possibilities, a simple thing can be a new, useful thing. I’d especially like young people to never give up because they can’t do many things in a rural area, I’d like them to attempt new things.”
|所在地||2098-1 Miwacho Kamiichi, Miyoshi, Hiroshima 729-6701|
|営業時間||10:30 am - 6 pm (The restaurant: ~2:30 pm on weekdays, ~6 pm on weekends and holidays. L.O. is 5:30 pm.)|