Made in Shonai: The Story

Two Foreigners in Shonai, early 2018

The days are getting warmer, the rice is growing taller; The Dewa Sanzan mountains are almost ready to be hiked. We moved here nearly a year ago, but still couldn’t believe Konbini's didn't sell natural energy bars to fuel our adventures and satisfy our post-lunch cravings. Right in front of us though, Shonai's farmers were growing some of Japan finest natural food. So we decided to stop complaining and tried to make our own bars.

Started in the Kitchen Now We're Here

We purchased a tiny mixer from Amazon and kept it simple: some dried fruits, good quality nuts, and Shonai’s finest brown rice - no frills attached. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we did it over and over again until we were making bars that were nourishing and tasted great. A friend summed up the result neatly: 'Special natural bars made in Shonai.' That's when we realized our energy bar had a name: The Shonai Special.

’’Every day is a journey, and the journey itself home’’

- Matsuo Basho on his journey through Shonai and Northern Japan

to write Oku no Hosomichi

Making it real

That summer, our friend and local Persimmon farmer Madoka joined the crew, and the core Shonai Special team was born. We asked a designer to create a simple label, stuck in on a wrapper made for tea leaves that could hold our bars, and tried to sell the Shonai Special at a local farmer’s market. We sold out that first day and haven’t looked back since.

True to Our Origins

Although this endeavor started with the simple desire to make a better natural energy bar, it has evolved into a full-fledged food company thanks to the support of our local community. There are many challenges ahead as we slowly scale up in these uncertain times, but we're just getting started. Moving forward, we can't wait to share the Shonai Special Energy Bar, other Shonai Special products, and the values on which they are built - vitality, community, and an appreciation for the countryside and where our food comes from - with the rest of Japan. Thank you for your continued support.

Scenes from the Early Days