by James Galletly
Photos by Alicia Fox
Tucked away amongst the rice paddies and forest of the Boso Peninsula is an organic oasis known as Brown’s Field.
This peaceful respite awaits anyone willing to make the two hour journey from Tokyo. Brown’s Field is many things, and is as diverse as the range of people it appeals to. There is a lovely organic café, a macrobiotic cooking school, and plenty of organically grown rice and vegetables. Founder Everett Brown describes it as “a place where people can get away from the city and experience natural, healthy, rural living.” He goes on to say, “We are creating a sustainable living environment that can serve as inspiration for 21st century living.” They combine the best of traditional Japanese living with an aesthetic eye and modern sensibility. On top of that, it is a great place to take kids as there are goats, hammocks and tree houses.
As a day visitor from Tokyo your experience is bound to center around the delightful food served at the Rice Terrace Café. The café serves gourmet health foods utilizing locally grown, organic vegetables. They offer a set lunch and an irresistible homemade dessert menu. One taste of the sweets alone and you will know the journey was worthwhile.
While the food is delicious and nutritious, it’s the setting that makes the experience so special. The café building is an old barn, renovated, extended and refurbished to the extent that you will have no idea you are dining where animals once did. It now resembles a living art piece, with mosaics and artistic features built into the walls and windows. Sitting in this wonderful structure makes you feel special, like you have just discovered an artists’ retreat and are right amongst their inspirational setting.
Taking a walk around Brown’s Field reveals many interesting things, including numerous gardens that seem to sprout from the landscape. There are a number of creative and environmentally friendly buildings to inspect; one of the more interesting is a Mongolian yurt. Slung under the trees are a few large, inviting hammocks which make a wonderful place to digest lunch and ponder your surroundings.
If the natural setting and the alternative philosophies in practice pique your interest, you’re in the perfect place to learn more. The staff run workshops on topics related to sustainable living, including organic vegetable growing, traditional building methods, or cooking with the seasons. Deco Nakajima, who founded Brown’s Field with her husband Everett, is a well respected author and teacher on macrobiotics. Most workshops are run in Japanese, but some are in English, depending on the presenter. The farm also hosts monthly detox retreats. An insider’s tip is to hunt out the local artisan bakery that’s within strolling distance of Brown’s Field. A loaf of their sourdough makes the perfect souvenir, but arrive early as they regularly sell out on weekends.
Brown’s Field can easily be enjoyed as a day trip from Tokyo, but if you want more time to unwind they offer accommodation in their guest house or even the treehouse. From Tokyo, it’s approximately a two hour journey by car or an hour and a half by JR. The closet station is Chojamachi on the Sotobu line. Near the station is a bicycle shop that will rent you a bike, or it’s a 40-minute stroll from there. However you arrive, you will be glad you took the time to explore this alternate side to Japanese life.
For more information see www.brownsfield-jp.com.