Kunisaki Peninsula Usa area

Northeast of Oita prefecture Consists of 6 municipalities Kunisaki Peninsula Usa area

  1. 1Bungotakada City
  2. 2Kitsuki City
  3. 3Usa City
  4. 4Kunisaki City
  5. 5Himeshima Village
  6. 6Hiji Town


世界農業遺産に認定された平成25年5月以降、「クヌギ林とため池がつなぐ国東半島・宇佐の農林水産循 GIAHSプロジェクトアクションプラン」(計画期間:平成25年度~29年度)に基づき、具体的な取組を進めてきました。この間、行政や関係機関が協力し、「農林水産業とそれらと関連した人々の営みの次世代への継承」と「GIAHSブランドを活用したものづくりや交流人口の拡大等による地域の元気づくり」を柱に様々なプロジェクトを実行してきました。

初期のプランの取組成果や課題、農林水産省世界農業遺産等専門家会議の助言事項を踏まえ、平成30年2月に、今後5年間に取り組むアクションプランを策定しました。 改定後のアクションプランに基づき、伝統的な農林水産業システムの「次世代への継承」と世界農業遺産ブランドを活用した「地域の元気づくり」を目指し、取組を進めていきます。


The deep valleys and ridges extending outward from the Futago mountain system to become the Kunisaki Peninsula

A natural environment that is tough on rice paddy agriculture

The Kunisaki Peninsula Usa area is situated in northeast Kyushu, south of the Seto Inland Sea. It is formed by four cities and one village, with the round peninsula at their center. The geographical terrain features mountain ridges and deep valleys extending out radially from the Mt. Futago mountain ranges at the centre of the peninsula. Plain lands are narrow and there are many short and steep rivers. Due to its low precipitation and volcanic soil that quickly absorbs any rainfall this region has struggled with the difficulties of securing water since ancient times.

Area 1,323.75㎢
Population 167,992. Total of 10,208 people in agriculture, forestry and fisheries (as of March 2015)
Climate Humid, temperate climate (Seto Inland Sea climate)
Main industries Agriculture, forestry and fisheries, precision instruments manufacturing
Average precipitation comparison Statistical chart

“Trees producing food”, contributing to global food security

Log wood cultivated Shiitake produced from forest resources

In this area, log wood cultivated Shiitake production using Sawtooth Oak forests is carried out traditionally. Sawtooth Oaks provide the necessary nutritional source for the growth of Shiitake mushrooms and are used to produce log wood cultivated Shiitake food source. The Sawtooth Oak forest resource system that produces this food source is highly regarded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) because it contributes greatly to the aspects of nutrition and livelihood security in this region of limited arable land. Furthermore, by growing log wood cultivated Shiitake, the logging and regeneration cycle of the Sawtooth Oak forest is repeated and further prompts the renewal of the forests. Together with maintaining public functions of the forests such as recharging the water resources, it is linked to the preservation of the excellent Satoyama (rural area) environment and scenery.

An international conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition (FAO)
An international conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition (FAO)

An agriculture, forestry and fisheries system, including Japan’s number one log wood cultivated Shiitake production, sustainably maintained with the Sawtooth Oak forests and irrigation ponds


Middle Ages Manor (Tashibunosho)
still exists to this day

In the past, the people of this region had to contend with water shortages therefore they carried out rice paddy agriculture which utilized the natural landscape. The traces of such efforts are told by the “Tashibunosho Osaki Agricultural Landscape” which still exists today almost completely unchanged from the Middle Ages.
In the regions around the base of the mountains, the Sawtooth Oak forests are properly managed so that the recharged water resources nurture the rice paddy agriculture and diverse ecosystem. They form the beautiful scenery of the ‘Satoyama’ areas and farming communities. With origins in the manor remains of the 11th Century, the fact that the fundamental form of the 14th to 15th Century arable land and hamlets has been retained is highly acclaimed, and in 2010 the landscape was designated as an “Important National Cultural Landscape”.

The last remaining Shichitoui crop production area in Japan

Shichitoui cultivation does not overlap with the water usage periods and busy, labor intensive periods of the wetland rice cultivation. In the past it was grown widely within the prefecture given the high demand for the durable ‘Tatamiomote’ sheets that are made from it, but at present Kunisaki Peninsula Region is the sole production area for Shichitoui. Compared with Igusa (soft rush), Shichitoui is hard and has outstanding durability and is used for making tatami mat sheets for Judo halls and traditional cultural assets.
It is planted in early May, and then as it grows it is trimmed* and steadied by netting to prevent it from falling over. Approximately 90 days after it is planted, it is harvested in early August by hand using a sickle. The Shichitoui is split lengthways into two strips and then dried out over a period of 10 hours. Finally the strips are woven* into sheets. Shichitoui is a very labor intensive crop.

※Trimming … the grass is trimmed once it is 1.3m high to keep it an even height
※Weaving … Shichitoui is woven to make Tatamiomote sheets

A history of fighting with the "insufficient water" - The succession of a world-class system

  • Log wood Shiitake cultivation utilizing the Sawtooth Oaks
  • Multiple irrigation ponds interlinking the irrigation water supply system
  • Rice paddy farming fostered by the Sawtooth Oak forests
  • A diverse ecosystem nurtured by the Sawtooth Oak forest and interlinked irrigation ponds
  • Farming culture and landscape handed down through generations

The interlinked system of Japan’s greatest accumulation of Sawtooth Oak forests and multiple irrigation ponds bears a variety of agriculture, forestry and fishery industries which includes the country’s sole Shichitoui production area, in addition to preserving the diverse ecosystem. Based on the Rokugo Manzan culture, many folk events related to farming passed down through generations still exist today.

Irrigation water supply system of multiple interlinked irrigation ponds born from the geographical constraints of the region

On top of stably running rice paddy agriculture, it is estimated that the history of the indispensable irrigation ponds began in the period in the 11th Century when the fields were opened up and crop cultivation began. Most of these were established in accordance with the population increase of the 19th Century. Given that the construction of large scale irrigation ponds was not possible due to the area’s geographical conditions our ancestors established the techniques to secure the necessary amount of water using multiple interlinked small scale irrigation ponds. Through this, reciprocally beneficial water supplies were equalized and the precious water was efficiently distributed and the water shortage issue was resolved. In addition by having open waterways between the irrigation ponds, the water catchment area was increased so that more rainfall entered the irrigation ponds and a stable water supply is attained.

The management system of the multiple, interlinked irrigation ponds

The Tsunai region of Kunisaki City currently uses an interlinked system of six ponds which was established in the Edo Period. Takao pond, which is the furthest upstream pond, is kept for use in the latter period of wet-land rice production. Until then, the three mid-stream ponds and the two downstream ponds are fed into one another and supply the water for production.
In this region the knowledge and experience needed for continuing the irrigation water supply system is passed down through generations. There is a position called the “Ikemori” (pond manager) who is entrusted with the operations and management of the irrigation ponds. Water withdrawal management is conducted so that rice paddy water rations are equalized and so that water is used effectively and fairly. The fact that this system is maintained and managed for each of the rivers spreading outward from the Mt. Futago ranges is a feature of the rice paddy agriculture of this region.

The Sawtooth Oak circulation system and food production system

Quantity of Sawtooth Oak in Japan
【 as of Mar 31, 2017 /Forestry Agency】

Japan’s largest Sawtooth Oak forests and their multiple functions

The cumulative total of Sawtooth Oak trees in Oita Prefecture accounts for around 24% of the total nationwide, making it the largest amount in Japan. The proportion of the region’s forest area covered by Sawtooth Oak forests is 11.5%, which exceeds the prefectural average. This is due to the geographical characteristics of the area which make the natural environment well suited to Sawtooth Oaks. From this stemmed the active planting of trees in the Satoyama areas for use as Shiitake cultivation log wood as well as wood and charcoal fuel materials so that residents could make a living.

Preservation of Sawtooth Oak forests and the cultivation of log wood cultivated Shiitake

Even when chopped down, the Sawtooth Oak sprouts from the stump and has the fantastic characteristic of being a cyclical source of timber. Through appropriate management, planted Sawtooth Oak forests will grow to the suitable size needed for use in log wood cultivated Shiitake production after around fifteen years. The fully grown Sawtooth Oak trees are cut down in autumn and supply Shiitake production. After the Sawtooth Oak trees are cut down, new shoots sprout from the stump the following spring.

n order to ensure the necessary amount of sunlight and nutrients for growth, undergrowth and weeds are trimmed back. The trimmed undergrowth then not only holds back the growth of future undergrowth, but as it slowly decomposes it also assists the growth of the Sawtooth Oaks and provides them with nourishment. Furthermore, the fallen leaves and old logs that have been used for Shiitake cultivation humify and turn into mineral rich soil, forming a soft, swollen water retention layer. Two to three years after sprouting, the stumps are cleared to leave only two to three shoots which accelerates their growth. Before long, around 15 years after being cut down, the Sawtooth Oak trees regrow to a size that allows them to be used as log wood for Shiitake cultivation.

  1. 1

    Log wood cross cutting

    1-2 months after cutting down the trees, they are trimmed to 1-1.2m in length.

    Preparing the logs (January to March)

    Holes are drilled into the trimmed logs with an electric drill and wood chips containing shiitake fungal filaments are inserted into the holes.

  2. 2

    Resting period (January to March)

    The logs inoculated with Shiitake fungus are left to rest in an area that will allow the fungus to spread. To provide good ventilation and shelter them from direct light, the logs are covered in Sawtooth Oak branches. This is called ‘Kasagi’.

  3. 3

    Relocation to the Hoda-ba

    After resting, in the autumn of the second year, the log wood is moved to a location suited to Shiitake sprouting called a ‘Hoda-ba’ (where log wood cultivated Shiitake are grown). When Shiitake begin to sprout from the log wood, the logs are then called ‘Hoda-gi’.

  4. 4

    Growth and harvesting

    Shiitake predominantly sprout in spring and autumn. Once they grow to the appropriate size, they are harvested by lightly twisting the base of the mushroom.

Unique Hoda-ba management for growing log wood cultivated Shiitake

The key points for growing top quality log wood cultivated Shiitake mushrooms are the Hoda-ba that are used, and the water sprinkling. During winter this area receives little rainfall and experiences low temperatures. Therefore in the period when water is needed for Shiitake to sprout, log wood cultivated Shiitake are produced with methods such as using irrigation pond water for water sprinkling. The Hoda-ba here are not in the commonly used cedar coniferous forests, but instead in broad leaf forests called “bright Hoda-ba” where the lighting and temperature can be suitably controlled.

Dried log wood cultivated Shiitake are log wood cultivated Shiitake that have been dried in sunlight or using a drying machine. Depending on their shape, luster and color they are divided into categories such as “Donko”, “Koko” and “Koshin”. In this region, valuable, high quality dried log wood cultivated Shiitake such as the “Chabadonko” and “Koko” varieties can be grown using superior cultivation techniques. Oita Prefecture holds many shining accolades for its Shiitake and has been awarded the prestigious Grand Prize at the National Dried Shiitake Competition 21 years in a row, and has won a total of 53 times (as of 2019).

  1. 1st Oita Prefecture Production 948t(39% share)
  2. 2nd Miyazaki Prefecture Production 422t(17% share)
  3. 3rd Kumamoto Prefecture Production 182t(8% share)

Dried Shiitake Mushroom Production Volume
※ 2019 Specific Forestry Products Basec Data (Forestry Agency)

Oita Dried Shiitake lineup



These Shiitake grow slowly in the cold climate from late winter to early spring. The edges are thickly rolled inward, the cap is very thick and the entire mushroom is very rounded.



These Shiitake grow in early to mid-spring. They are thicker and larger than the Donko and are both flavorsome and aromatic.



These Shiitake grow from mid to late spring and are harvested once the cap is 70% open. The cap is thin and the mushrooms have a flat shape.

In February 2020, a new brand of dried shiitake mushrooms from Oita prefecture, "Umamidake" was born. Please see the link below for details.


Characteristic agriculture, forestry and fishery products and the diverse ecosystem

The downfalls of rain in this region soak into the soil piled up with fallen Sawtooth Oak leaves and turns into spring water comprised of organic matter and nutrient salt*. As a source of nutrients for phytoplankton and seaweed, this spring water supports the rice paddy agriculture and coastal fishing in addition to nurturing the diverse ecosystem.

※Nutrient salt … general term for silicate, phosphate, nitrate and nitrite etc. which are nutrients for phytoplankton and seaweed

27 types of vegetation listed on the Ministry of the Environment’s Red Data List of Threatened Species are found in this region, including Iwagirisou (Opithandra primuloides).
53 species of birds registered on the Red List including the Little Curlew inhabit this region.
Fish, crustaceans
48 types of fish and crustaceans found on the Red List of Threatened Species are found in this region. Akaza inhabit the rivers, and Kubohaze and the Kabutogani, which is known as a living fossil, inhabit the mudflats.
Reptiles, amphibians
12 species of reptiles and amphibians listed on the Red List of Threatened Species inhabit this region, including the Oitasanshouuo salamander, which is designated as an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
Oitasanshouuo Japanese Giant Salamander
Oitasanshouuo Japanese Giant Salamander
Photographer: Shinichi Sato
Iwagirisou (Ophithandra primuloides)
Iwagirisou (Ophithandra primuloides)
Photographer: Tsuyoshi Oda
Little Curlew
Little Curlew
アカザ 撮影:星野 和夫
Akaza (Liobagrus reini)
Photographer: Kazuo Hoshino

Agriculture, forestry and fishery produce brimming with regional characteristics

This area didn’t partake in large-scale rice paddy farming so in order to maintain their livelihood residents needed to cultivate a crop that complemented wetland rice. In the past, many farming households combined rice paddy farming with log wood cultivated Shiitake production, but these days there are many commodities being produced such as beef, Welsh onions, small Welsh onions, and greenhouse-grown Mikan fruit. There are many characteristic products, and in particular the Shichitoui crop production area in Kunisaki Peninsula Region is the only production region in the country. In addition to this, there are a variety of agriculture, forestry and fishery industries developing in Oita Prefecture such as the Oita Prefecture specialty Kabosu lime, and the indigenous species such as Mitori beans and Oben persimmons that have taken root in this region.

Dried log wood cultivated Shiitake
Dried log wood cultivated Shiitake
Kabosu limes
Kabosu limes
Greenhouse-grown Mikan
Greenhouse-grown Mikan
Small Welsh onions
Small Welsh onions
Welsh onions
Welsh onions
Wheel chrysanthemum
Wheel chrysanthemum
Tsuyahime rice
Tsuyahime rice
Pond loach
Pond loach
Gazami crab
Gazami crab
Oita Bungo Beef
Oita Bungo Beef
Shiroshita karei (flatfish)
Shiroshita karei (flatfish)
Japanese tiger prawn
Japanese tiger prawn
Bungo Beppu Bay Chirimen fish
Bungo Beppu Bay Chirimen fish
Japanese oyster
Japanese oyster
Cutlass fish
Cutlass fish

Farming and food cultures passed down through generations

The Kunisaki Peninsula was once made up of the six hamlets called Musashi, Kunawa, Kunisaki, Tashibu, Aki and Imi, formed along the valleys spreading outward from the Mt. Futago ranges. These six hamlets together were called “Rokugo”. The syncretic Shinto and Buddhism “Rokugomanzan culture” in the temples opened by the monks of Kyushu’s largest manor, the Usa Hachiman Shrine (a National Treasure) and its associate temple Miroku is known to have blossomed, and the folk customs and food culture associated with farming have been passed down through generations to this very day.

Goshinkosai Festival

Usa CityGoshinkosai Festival

Amabiki Shrine

Bungotakada CityAmabiki Shrine

Kebesu Festival

Kunisaki CityKebesu Festival

Otaue Festival

Bungotakada CityOtaue Festival

In the Kunisaki Peninsula Usa area there are many temples of the Tendai Buddhism sect with strong ties to the Usa Hachiman Shrine, and there are many characteristic religious festivals relating to agriculture that are still practiced to this day.

Shujo-onie Festival

Bungotakada City and Kunisaki CityShujo-onie Festival

This festival is to show gratitude for the harvest of the previous year and to pray for a good harvest in the year ahead. It takes place at Tennenji (Bungotakada City), Iwatoji and Jobutsu (both in Kunisaki City) temples. Giant torches are lit, there is a Buddhist memorial service by monks, and ‘Oni’ (demon) dances are performed

Doburoku Festival

Kitsuki CityDoburoku Festival

This is a festival at Shirahigetahara Shrine, where thanks is given to rice harvests. At this festival rice wine called ‘Doboroku’ made by parishioners is offered to the guardian deity of the shrine. It is said to have been passed down as a parishioner focused religious organization and event. The practice began in 710, and has been carried on for over 1300 years.

ancient unit for measuring local administrations
land ownership system of lords and temples from the Nara Period to the Sengoku Period.
Syncretization of Shinto and Buddhism
The harmonious fusion of Shinto and Buddhism

Many local dishes

There are many local dishes here that utilize seasonal agriculture, forestry and fishery produce caught and harvested in the area. This local cuisine is offered at each household and restaurant run by local residents.
A group of local women is not only carrying on the tradition of the local dishes, but is also developing new meals using local produce. They are endeavoring to revitalize the region through the succession of regional culture and interaction with large cities.

  • だんご汁 全域
    Dango dumpling soupall regions
    This soup contains seasonal vegetables and long, stretched out Dango dumplings made with wheat flour, and is seasoned with miso. It is a local dish representative of Oita Prefecture and has been a fond meal for many people from times when rice was scarce.
  • みとりおこわ 全域
    Mitori-okowa rice dishall regions
    The Mitori bean is part of the pea family of plants and is a type of black eyed pea. Compared to the Adzuki bean, the Mitori bean is darker and does not break apart when cooked. It is eaten as a substitute for Adzuki beans at Buddhist memorial services and feasts at festivals.
  • いもきり 姫島村
    ImokiriHimeshima Village
    This is a dish from fishing villages where soup stock made using dried Shiitake and the offcuts of fresh fish is then poured over noodles made with sweet potato flour and wheat flour. This is an everyday food that spread in the middle of coastal areas with limited space for rice paddies.





農村景観の曲線、そして、調和と循環を意図する円の中に、濃い緑 =「クヌギ林」、両サイドの水色 =「ため池群」、黄緑とツワブキ色 =「棚田」という3つの連なる風景を色面で構成しました。