Skip to content

Dignity at Coco Farm and Winery

April 20, 2009
Coco Farm & Winery

Coco Farm & Winery

Coco Farm & Winery, just outside the historic city of Ashikaga in Japan’s Kanto Region produces more than 200,000 bottles of wine each year in varieties that range from Oak barrel red to sparkling Novo, which was the first Japanese wine to be served at a G8 summit. These wines are produced in large part through the efforts of men and women who, if not for Cocoromi Gakuen, might well have been institutionalized, society having few other places for them.

The story of the farm begins in 1950 when Noboru Kawada, a high school teacher, founded the gakuen (school) in order to create a place where students classified as mentally handicapped could go when they grew up. The original students at the school helped to clear, plant, and fertilize the first plantings. Some of these original students, now elders, still live at the farm and are respected as professional farmers and winemakers. In The Yattembeh Spirit (yattembeh roughly translates as give it a try), Kawada gives details of the development of Coco Farm & Winery, including the stories of young people who had previously been deemed “unreachable” or even “hopeless”.

At the Harvest Festival

At the Harvest Festival

Today, students and staff live in community at the school and, while some of the wine-making methods have changed, the basic purpose has not: the farm continues to allow people with diagnoses that include autism and Down’s syndrome to engage in meaningful work and live with dignity.

It’s important to note that while the hills that host the farm may be isolated, the residents are not isolated from the outside community. If you’re ever in the Kanto Area, you can visit the cafe and wine shop most days, and every fall, the farm holds a weekend harvest that features performers and chefs from the region and beyond, attracting an international crowd.

Comments are closed.

  • Previous Series at GAB

  • TWITTER: What’s going on @GABblog

  • Top Posts

  • Recommended Reading

  • We participated in Blog for International Women’s Day 2010.

  • NetworkedBlogs

  • %d bloggers like this: