The Emperor’s visit to observe the tea harvest in 1949.Note the reporter filming the occasion from the platform at upper left.
Tokunaga Seicha was born in 1947, amidst the upheaval of the reconstruction of Japan following the Second World War. The founder, 34 year old Tokunaga Masaro aspired to become a tea grower following the loss of his career (a victim of a beaurocratic purge). The following year Masaro was married, and he and his new wife, Yoshiko, worked very late nights making the tea which Masaro would then sell, using only his bicycle for transportation. With his two meal lunchbox balanced on his head, he would set out every day with the new tea, heading for markets in neighboring Saga and Nagasaki. Naturally, there were no high tech tea processing machines at the time, so all they had to rely on was their own 5 senses in their quest to create tea which could be appreciated by the widest audience possible. In time, they were joined by Sakamoto, and the groundwork for the creation of Tokunaga tea processing and wholesale store was complete. This period in Japan’s history saw the Japanese people doing their best to create a bright future for their society, and it is this time that Yoshiko looks back on as the most vigorous and substantial.
Masaro also left his footprints on the organization and establishment of the tea business in present day Ureshino. In 1973, he became the first president of the Western Kyushu Tea Growers Association. A self proclaimed ‘warrior of the tea field’, Masaro was a man overflowing with human kindness and sentiment.
In 1975, Masaro’s eldest son Sotaro took over the family business and 2 years later married Kayoko, his wife. Over the years younger staff were added, and in 1991, Tokunaga Tea was incorporated and ‘Tea House Tokunaga’ was created as a direct sales outlet for the Tokunaga tea factory. Hashiguchi, Oshima, and Yamaguchi had by this time already made significant contributions toTokunaga teas as experts in their respective fields.
The new company, centered around 41 year old Sotaro took on its direction for the future based on two tenets. Firstly, that of offering delicious teas of the highest quality at the lowest possible prices. This was added to the traditional motto of Tokunaga teas: producing safe, delicious tea worthy of customer trust.
In 1996, we implemented a campaign unprecedented in our company history. We discounted our already popular ‘Ofuku-cha’ in commemoration of Tokunaga Seicha’s upcoming 50th anniversary. Our company motto ‘highest quality teas at the lowest possible prices’ generally forbids us from offering our teas at a discount, simply because our prices are already so low. However, we felt that offering our ‘Ofuku-cha’ at a further discount was the perfect compliment to this commemorative occasion, and was in fact met with a huge customer response.
In 1997, on our 50th anniversary, we again offered our ‘Ofuku-cha’ at a special price at the beginning of the harvesting season, and again the following year, due to the great customer response. Since that time, this special seasonal pricing has become an established practice at Tokunaga Seicha and continues to this day. Naturally, we always have a wide variety of quality affordable teas suitable for gift giving available for our customers.
In 1999, the 53rd Annual All Japan Tea Festival was held in Ureshino. Tokunaga Sotaro, chairman of the Saga Prefecture Tea Association, had the opportunity to take part in the planning of the event. During the festival’s tea competition, Tokunaga’s teas took the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Award in the Kama-iri Guri-cha (roasted, rolled teas) division, as well as the Ministry’s Horticultural Director Award in the Mushisei Guri-cha (steamed, rolled teas) division. Both of these teas, in addition to Tokunaga’s Daifuku-cha, were made available to customers.
In this time of increasing internet influence and the expansion of distribution networks, the world is becoming decidedly smaller. The outbreaks of Mad Cow Disease in Europe and SARS and Avian Flu in Asia have influenced our lives more quickly and more considerably than in the past. Cheap labor and warm climates have made mass production of foreign produced teas possible, and more are imported every year. The time has come to make clear the true merits of the Ureshino tea growing region
As we grope to find our way, it is readily apparent that ‘highest quality teas at the lowest possible prices’ is the wisest path for the future. Everyone in our company strives to bring customers the best Ureshino tea possible.
At Tokunaga Seicha we appreciate your patronage and look forward to serving you in the future.
An Association for the Promotion and Certification of Organic Foods (JAS) certified company
Tokunaga Seicha Incorporated
Proprietor: Tokunaga Soutaro
Address: Shimojuku 1938 (Onsen 2 Ku)
Ureshino-cho Ureshino, Saga-Ken
Toll Free: 0120-129484