Asan Service Co.,Ltd.

Awakening on Appetite

Awakening on Appetite

That was a shocking event. I visited my aunt on that day. I was 10 years old then and it was fall. For dinner, what she served me was heaping of white rice which I had never had in my whole life. I was surprised there was something delicious like this in the world. That was when I made up my mind to do some business which is related to foods. My aunt knew there was no rice in my home town located in the mountain, that must be the reason why she served me white rice which was grown around her house. White rice is necessary for kid who was at his growing up years.


I was born in Asama Village, Ichino-Kura, Ichinomiya town, Higashi-Yashiro country, Yamanashi prefecture. How rural village I was born. The place where I was born was somewhere without particular distinctions. Now this is a place cultivating the most number of peaches in Japan. Back then when I was born, culturing silkworms were active, my family was also doing this business and forestry as family business for years. My father was named Tomitoku, and m,other was Ae. I was born on November 1, 1935 as youngest child of the 7. My name “Atsushi” was named under the local festival name which was held just on the day I was born.


My grandmother’s little brother named Tokuji Hayakawa was the person who developed the subway between Asakusa and Shinbashi. He had no child and adopted my elder sister. He also wanted a son and I was taken to Tokyo by my grandmother when I was 5 years old. However, I could not get used to the life in the big city, I went back to my hometown when I was about to enter the elementary school. The school was called Oshirosakiki Jinjyo Elementary School.

elementary school period

In that time, kids in rural areas mainly wore long pants and thongs, however, taking a look at the pictures taken that time, I was wearing short pants, stockings, and leather shoes which were smart as Tokyo style. The memories are the fight against kids who are across the river which was between us. I was a leader of friends and picked up small stones and threw them to their side. In order to throw stones further, I researched on making tools. The scar on my head was from this stone throwing fight. Mr. Akira Genma, the present president of Shiseido was also in the same group with me. Thai is good old days.

about my parents

My father who was throwing themselves into forestry, on the other hand, being a village head for long-term, grew a mustache, and being caught on play at tea shops in Koufu city. I also preferred spending time there rather than staying at home since I can get toys from beautiful staff there. After the war, there was a farming land open, we had to concentrate on tree planting. My father was prized for green weeks following the order by Showa Emperor.
On the other hand, my mother was born in the Iwasaki Village which was next to the father’s. Her father, Seisei Takano, was the pioneer of wine brewing. He went to Bourgogne, France when he was 25 years old, and my mother was also modern person. When I came back home crying because of the fights outside, she did not let me in. She told me to fight again to beat them if I was a man. Since then, there were no days I came back home as crying. My mother always told me not to rely on others and not to leave foods uneaten or your eyes would get crushed.
This teaching must be the reason why me and my brothers affected by diabetic. Education policy and manners by parents were very strict though never told me to study hard.
My brothers and sisters are unique because of our unique parents, and we are still holding party together in February in every year. The oldest sister is already 80 years old, but love to dance, elder brother got blind though performing the guitar and harmonica at Nursing homes. Another sister started to paint since she was 75 years old, and the another is caught on acting. Everybody is enjoying their lives.

junior high school period

After the war and my graduation of elementary school. I got strongly interested in appetite in the time when there were not enough foods. Principal diets were noodles made by wheat or buckwheat, and sweet potatoes due to the lack of rice. We strived to cultivate sweet potatoes in the field at school, Mr. Tokumasa Umino, our teacher, taught us how to grow them., also he impressed me a lot. Every February, the class members including me still gather together to talk good old memories for more than half a century.

high school perlod

Mr. Yoshio Takano, now the president of Tokyo Sytle, who was my senior and entered the Sumo club at Hikawa High School, and did I. It used to be a male school where physical education was the favorite. After it switched to coed school, but the most students were male. I met the great teacher Mr. Murata was also then. He was a teacher who gave unique classes in a friendly way, and also raised a lot of athletes. He coached Waka and Taka, the sumo wrestlers. Also he coached a lots of rugby players, weight lifting Olympic players, professional wrestler Mr. Tsuruta, and also a national soccer team.
When I was at the second year, I weighed only 75 kgs and I felt my limit in sumo. I joined into the rugby club and made a foundation of rugby at the school. I had to make a choice after graduation. In order to move ahead to the food business field, I had to see the food cultures of the world, however taking the airplane was a difficult choice. I had to take ship then, so I thought entering the sailor school was the fastest way. That Tokyo Commercial Marine University had numbers of students applying, and also the academic ability needed was a little too high for me, so I should give up, my teacher said.

practical training period

Exporting canned foods bound for USA and Europe was flourish in Japan that time and also the related researches as well. I could enter the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry-approved-canning factory in Shizuoka, where graduated students from fisheries or forestry universities gathered. Among them, there were Mr. Era, Mr. Matsushima, Mr. Ooshita, and also Mr. Mitsuo who made with method switching can into BAG package, and also brought out Bon-Curry of Ootsuka Foods. I was influenced by him for getting patent certifications on foods. After researching on canning and training, I urged to acquire substantive food knowledges, at younger age, I called on Mr. Minoru Kubota, the president of Kubota Canning in Kabahara city, Shizuoka. This company used to supply seafoods by his father, and he switched the business into canning. He had 200 employees. The foods he processed as canned foods were tangerine, tuna, bamboo, chestnut and so on. I was taken care well and taught a lot of things by him. One phrase he said to me and it is the one I still remember well is: “If there is a garbage, you must pick it up. Just picking it up can save more energy than you will clean it up later. If everyone try not to throw but pick up, we can have clean society. In the case of food factory, to keep the area clean can help the growth of bacteria ” He passed away at his age of 82 years in the year 1996, and he left big impression on me in my life. His wife is still in good condition and when I go back to Japan, I visit her to talk old memories.

alcohol for eating

In the year 1957, I came back to my hometown Yanamashi and I entered Alcohol manufacturing company. I was 22 years old then. Back in those days, western cultures was in fashion and you could see bars opening everywhere in town. Cocktails were young people’s fashion. At the company, wine and brandy were being manufactured, and after this new fashion, we came to start to manufacture liquors for cocktails. I was in charge of developing these. The products included: “Cream De Cacao” which was made from cacao, “Apricot Brandy” which was made from apricots, and also Dry Gin which used juniperous rigida. A small company in rural spreaded markets and went into alcohol business field all over the country. This cocktail boom was over in the year 1963 and the popular alcohol was switched into whiskey.

encounter with alcohol

Just in that time, I met Mr. Tadahiko Hodumi who gave me the big influence of life. He leaned from Mr. Sakaguchi at Agricultural Dept., Tokyo University. Also he is the author of tutorial manual on alcohol especially wine, and commentaryed on alcohol until the year 1997 when he passed away. He entered the Fuji Fermenting Company as an executive director in the year 1963, I and he researched on developing alchohol for eating and for health together. What we needed was to do something new in order to fight in the market of companies in the city area. Sake by Gekkeikan, Whiskey by Suntory, Nikkan and wine by Mercian were the strongest in each market. Talking about Sake(alcohol) for eating, if we succeeded in developing, this would be the first so we could be the one. The popular alcohol used for processing foods was mirin. However, mirin is categorised as alcohol and applied liquor taxes. It is hard to understand why we have to pay taxes for alcohol used for manufacturing foods? This was the way I thought was to lead the way of the company. Through conflicting with government and solved the problem of patent, I succeeded in producing the Japan’s-first-fermented-seasoning. Since then, this fermented seasoning has been used widely including frozen foods, processed seafoods, and processed vegetables. Fuji Fermenting company has still been a leader of other companies in the field, and its amount is a hundred twenty thousand per year, and it is larger number than mirin today.

became independent and thailand

Ingredients of the fermented seasoning are rice, starch, sugars, treacly alcohol, and salt. Its price is cheaper than mirin since it has no alcohol taxes, also since it is not categorized as alcohol, it can be sold anywhere. Since it has these advantages, but if I use glutinous rice like mirin, thaqt would be big in cost. I was considering how to do with this point. Then, the representative Mr. Uchida, who was guardian of my wife, called on me on the the claim about foods they had from Commercial Minister of Thailand. Since he was in the same year with the Minister in University, he had to do something to help him. Therefore, he asked me to take a inspection tour to Thailand. The issue was since we got Okinawa prefecture returned as Japanese territory, and Japan banned any imports of rice in order to use our country’s own rice.
So I departed for Thailand. The over-sea works I did before that were manufacturing carrot liquor in Korea, Habu-snake liquor in Okinawa, and Plum liquor in Taiwan.
Since the task in Thailand business was related to rice, I was getting a hastle more than ever. I had a guide from Thailand’s Commercial Minister and firstly visited Saraburi prefecture where they grow glutinous rice. I treid but the taste was not right. I also visited other place where they grow glutinous rice, it was Chiangrai prefecture in the Northern area. I tried some at the rice-polishing factory. That was so delicious, even sweeter than the Japanese one and I kept on eating that made the guide surprised. I was back in administrative in Bangkok, and wrote a report that glutinous rice in Thailand are enough usable for processing foods.
Back in Japan, I made a report to Mr., Uchida, and my company President Mr. Horiuchi and executive director, Mr. Horidumi. Thailand’s glutinous rice is usable was usable for fermented seasoning and also for sweets. Since I could not receive investment from the company, I came to estimate my own company under supports from others. That was in the year 1977, I estimated SUN FOODS in Japan for producing processed foods, and SUN FOODS in Thailand for manufacturing alcohol.
Any kinds of business related to alcohol manufacture were monopolized by ministry of financial and industry in Thailand. Only alcohol business of citizen was dealing with beer, it was difficult to receive the license by Minister of Financial and it took me one year. Firstly, I manufactured shiro-sake, which would be the main ingredient of mirin. The first export was supported by Mr. Uchida, the product was delivered to the Japan’s big manufacturer. That time glutinous rice was was under government’s control. They pressured the manufacturer for cut off the content of rice which made this importer gave up the usage of this product. I was too shocked when Mr. Uchida passed away under the hard work, and even made me think of stopping this business in Thailand for a while. Then, Mr. Hodumi said to me “Japan will not be a agricultural country for long. Sooner or later, Japan will have to rely on importing of rice-processed foods. You have to hold on if how hard you suffer.” I kept on manufacturing the shiro-sake to export to SUN FOODS in Japan, and small amount of products to sell to manufacturers which there are no control by the Minister. Producing only shiro-sake, I used not enough glutinous rice as Thai government expects. I did researches in order to develop new products, and I found mochi powder and researched if it is possible to export or not. Japan banned imports of rice, rice noodles, rice powder, and mochi. One day, I took a look at the Australian donut mix which contained flour, baking soda, and plant oil. I went to check at the custom and knew this kind of product is able to be imported in Japan. I succeed in import of processed glutinous rice product in Japan for the first time. Big commercial company broke into this business which its annual amount reaches 60,000 tons today. I think I could repay Thai government. I received prizes from minister of commerce, minister of industry of Thailand, and ministry of trade and industry of Japan. After that, Japan was claimed by USA and Europe on agricultural affairs especially on rice. Japan answered that we did not import any rice, but only processed rice products. Now is a new generation and even Food agency asked me to develop more products using rice. As Mr. Hodumi used to say, almost all the ingredients of mirin are now imported from overseas.


It has been 12 years since I estimated brewing company in Thailand, Japanese soy sauce company, Japanese food company, and frozen food company. In my mind, I always had the desire for real food. Talking about Mirin, most of the people recognize its ingredients are rice, however, actually they use alcohol for brewing, glutinous rice, rice malt, and sugars. For alcohol for brewing, its ingredients are quite unclear. I was wondering why they had to use blackstrap in producing mirin which were supposed to made with rice. I came to the idea that I wanted to produce alcohol which was made from rice itself and I kept on writing little reports. In 1988, by chance, the Vietnamese government officer took a look at reports which I wrote, and asked me to produce rice-alcohol there in Vietnam. That was the year 1989 when I entered Vietnam. That time, Doi Moi reform had just started in Vietnam. Even though I went there from Thailand, the life in Vietnam was just as the beginning of Showa period. Even in Ho Chi Minh city, we had to use the lamps since we had to live without electricity for 4 days a week, people used bicycles or motorcycles instead of cars. The country seemed to be awful country because the town was dark, no smiles from people, the officers put on big fronts. But the thing I liked was they also believed in Buddhism. Its citizens were hard-workers, the government’s though was gradually heading toward capitalism. I decided to invest for the alcohol business and estimated a company with national government managed company.

reaching retirement

I became employee when I was 22 years old. I started my own company when I was 42 years old, until today I am 60 years old, I always did business related to food industry. I wanted to work for foods from the beginning when I was 10 years old, so I was lucky I could graduated for retiring with this field. The greatest thing to me was that I could meet great seniors and juniors. Mr. Minoru Kubota from training period, President Horiuchi from Fuji Fermenting company, and Mr. Tadahiko Hodumi who helped me a lot in my life,. Also after my retirement, Mr. Horikiri who was ex-administrator of Kikkoman, Mr. Kazumitsu who is now a vice-chairperson at Sun Foods, Mr. Wada who was the ex-president of TNK, Mr. Sadahiro who was the ex-president of Sun Foods, Mr. Oomura who is present president of Sun Foods, Ms. Lan who is present president of DTF, and I would like to appreciate everyone who supported me until today in the industrial field.

my wife

I put my wife through the hoops that words can not explain. Toshiko, my wife, she was born as a second daughter of Gomi Soy Sauce company in Yamanashi in 1936. My father died in Manchurian Incident, so I was raised by my mother. After that, a friend of my father from junior high school Mr. Uchida, an attorney, became an guardian and I married when I was 25 years old, that was in 1960. Since I have a big dream on foods, we talked and decided not to use my money yielded as living expenses, but to use money which my wife yielded. I bought a liquor shop for 3 million yen, by having a support from my step-brother and my family, and also used my savings. We worked hard from morning until night as raising 3 sons. Now this shop has turned to be one of the biggest shops in prefecture. Our children grew up fine, the eldest son manage Sun Foods, the second manage the liquor shop, and the third manage Asan Service in Thailand. During I was not with her, she took parts of father and the manager of the shop instead of me. I appreciate her very much. Because of her, I could realize my dream came true. All the money that I earned were used to estimate companies. Now I have 2 companies in Japan, 3 companies in Thailand, and 2 companies in Vietnam with having a support from my wife. However, I noticed that I have one business I missed, that is manufacturing pickles. This business is what I thought was an important one in the food industries.

retiring is a start

At Dalat,
Once I started a life in Vietnam, I decided to move to Dalat, which was a town at plateau. I thought the weather there was suitable for growing vegetables. Dalat was just like a world in the novel “Drifting Clouds” by Fumiko Hayashi which I read when I read when I was a junior high school student. This was the richest and best place for farming in Vietnam which is located at 1,600 meters high. The temperature is the same all through the year; between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in the morning and at night, 25 to 30 degrees Celsius at daytime. Mainly, they grew cabbages, Chinese cabbages, pumpkins and potatoes. I started the pickles factory right away at this place. My friends told me to go back to Japan for relaxing instead of starting to work after retirement. Some people were against me with this decision of me though I thought this retirement was a start for me. I used my savings to estimate DTF pickles company in 1998 and I manufactured pickled ginger for sushi, and Japanese radish.

japanese plums

As I mentioned earlier, in my hometown was filled with plenty of fruits such as grapes, persimmons, chestnuts, Japanese plums, and peaches. Since I was a kind, I ate lots of fruits and my special favorites were Japanese plums and apricots. There were plums in Vietnam too, however, those were not suitable for pickling. There, I brought plum trees from Japan and I planted in the wild field. Sooner, I started to manufacture pickled plums and plum shochu. Ms. Lan supported me a lot since the start of the company, conflict with officers, and the management. I thank her a lot. From now on, I urge to teach how to do the pickling for young people in Vietnam. In our lives, every moments are the beginning. Sunday of July 25, 1999, I wrote from a hotel in Dalat telling myself this is a new start in my life again. Today in Dalat, as usual, we have got mist, and hydrangea which makes me happy. People passing by are putting on the rain coats and looking cold. Even though it is already July, I also put on the sweat r as writing this, with this new dream to deliver this Japanese foods culture to the world.

step after the retirement

October in 1999, I started to be able to have some time on my own. How foods and alcohol was made through the process since primates becoming humans was the topic that I was curious for long. I departed for the world to see the history. That was a trip for 100 days.
The issues I wanted to know the most are:
- About alcohol and breads of Egypt
- How Islamic alcohol and breads were made?
- Seeing the life in Fiji, Micronesia where they are still making ancient Cum liquor
- About Pisco, a white brandy which is made in Peru
- About rum of Cuba
- Wine of Italy and Spain
These were the main purposes of my trip.

Since ancient time, alcohol and foods were important to live for human in the world, and each country had their own method to make alcohol. It is my wish to make a book about these experiences. In May 30, 2005, TNK company in Vietnam was prized for Gold prize of WQC (World Quality Commitment), and I attended its celebration party. I was proud to be recognized as a company of Vietnam to receive ISO certification. Then, I visited Mr. Henry, who is in charge of the Damond’s house today. This is the place where my grandfather was educated on winery in 10th year of Meiji period in France. I was impressed that they still keep the house and books very well. I would like to thank Katsunuma city for helping me with this visit. As long as I am alive, I will try my best to tell the Japanese food culture to the world.

At the age of 70,
Novermber 1, 2005
bangkok mikawaya gyomu
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