Friday, February 26
Katie Lyons, KJ Johnson, & Matt Kellogg – Presiding Fellows
Day 5 was our final full day in Japan. We started things off with a trip north to the Kashima Port, the largest in Japan. On our trip up we were joined by two members of the Cargill Japan Limited team, Tsutomu Horie and Kazutaka Maeda. They provided us with some basic information about the port and what we would be seeing on the tours. About half way there we stopped at one of our favorite places in Japan, a highway oasis. This one had a Starbucks that everyone greatly enjoyed.
Once we arrived at the port we went to the Showa groups facilities. This site includes a crush facility where they take both canola and soybeans, a corn mill, and a flour mill. First, we watched a video about the Showa Group and their facilities. Next, we split into two groups for tours. The first group toured the berth area and the grain silos. They also got to take a look from atop the silos. There were a couple of boats unloading at the dock. The bigger of the ships was from Australia. The second group visited the flour mill. The mill process is highly automated with lots of robots and machines and very few human interactions. After the mill tour, group two got to check out the top of the mill building and look around the port area. Then we switched tours so that both groups got to experience the entire tour.
After our morning tours we enjoyed a lovely four course lunch at the Kashima Central Hotel. We had a lovely salad, followed by a seafood pot pie, followed by Wagyu beef and finished off with a strawberry dessert. It was quite fantastic. Once lunch had concluded there was time for a little shopping at the hotel.
For our afternoon session we headed to the Showa egg grading facility in Asahi. Before we could enter the facility our bus had to be sterilized. Bio security is very important to them. Once inside we had a short presentation about the facility and their processes. Next we suited up and got a tour of the grading processes. We had to sterilize our hands before we could enter the area where they take in the eggs from the farm. We viewed the intake process. After that we saw the egg washing station where they use a chlorine substance to clean everything off. If they don’t get them completely clean, then a person sets the dirty eggs aside.
Following that, we changed shoes and headed into the final review and packaging area. They are checking the eggs for cracks and blood spots. Each egg gets checked 18 times for cracks by automated machines! Most of this process is automated with a few interactions by humans. The Japanese eat a lot of raw eggs so freshness is very important. From farm to grocery store, it usually takes two days. They also like dark egg yolks and we found out that they get these by feeding the chickens paprika and marigolds in addition to corn.
The folks at Showa were very hospitable and a very good representation of the friendly Japanese culture. As we exited, we waved good bye.
We concluded the day and our tour of Japan with a dinner on the 59th floor of Sunshine City in one of the sky restaurants. It was our final traditional Japanese dinner after a fabulous week in the land of the rising sun.