Kawanehoncho is a sprawling mountain town in the upper reaches of Shizuoka Prefecture. The Oi River flows from the Southern Japanese Alps down through this region, nurturing the earth and supporting a fertile natural environment perfectly suited for the production of tea.
Running on Kawane Time
Local tea producers
Sencha in a small cup
Sencha in a glass goblet
As part of my tea trip, I journeyed far up into the alpine paradise of Kawanehoncho. Local tea producers invited me to join them for a few rounds of sencha, both in a small, thumb-sized cup and in a glass goblet more evocative of wine than tea. As I let the umami-rich flavor settle in my mouth, I listened to my hosts’ explanation of Kawanehoncho’s special culture, molded by the confluence of an unspoiled natural environment and a fondness for tea, the drink that forms the backbone of the townspeople’s livelihoods. It is this background, I learned, that has given rise to what they call “Kawane Time.” Here, in the mountains, life is not about rushing around from one commitment to the next.Time is not an enemy; there is no race against the clock. It is something, rather, to be spent sitting down, tea in hand, chatting with friends, lettingthe anxieties and tension that permeate city life dissolve gently like sencha passing through one’s lips.
（Steven Pelcovits, Coordinator for International Relations, Shizuoka pref.)
The View from the Top
After enjoying some Kawane Time together, we drove still higher to a lookout area with a commanding view of seemingly endless tea bushes. One of the Kawanehoncho tea producers, Yuko Tsuchiya, pointed out that we could see almost all the way to the next village over. I stood and took in the view, appreciating the unusual opportunity to get out of the city and into the thick of tea culture. As I returned to the urban hustle and bustle, I looked down at my watch, looking forward to my next chance to set it back to Kawane Time.（Steven Pelcovits, Coordinator for International Relations, Shizuoka pref.)