The village of Shingo is said to be the birthplace of dairy farming in Aomori Prefecture. Dairy farming began in the prefecture as a prefectural government project, and the tradition of dairy farming continues in the village today at the Makinotai Green Park.
Makinotai Green Park is a large park situated on the foothills of the sacred Herai mountain that is around 90% forest. Inside this large park is a small milk and ham processing facility, and it is here that Shingo’s famous drinking yogurt is made.
Touring the facility, we were led by the director of the Shingo Village Furusato Revitilaztion Co., Mr. Kadogishi, who commented ‘The area is just perfect for dairy farming and making yogurt. The park is situated on a 350-meter high-plateau which creates an environment of cool, clean air and water which is perfect for the cows.’
To make the best possible yogurt you need the best possible milk. Here in Shingo, that being stringent about everything from the developing the very soil that will produce the cow’s food, to ensuring that only fresh milk collected from that same morning is used for the yogurt. This ensures a safe, high-quality product that has superior quality, flavor, and fragrance with absolutely no preservatives or other additives.
‘Cows by nature dislike change. Things, like leaving a single cow alone in wide spaces or letting them overheat in hot weather, cause them stress. Knowing what makes the cows stressed out, preventing that, and keeping them happy is what makes a difference with our milk and subsequently our yogurt. After collecting the 100% fresh milk from the cows we begin the process of making the yogurt and ferment it using lactic acid bacteria. Originally we set out to make ice cream, and yogurt kind of came along during our process for that. But even though we kept concentrating on making ice cream, it was our yogurt that was getting the most attention, so it was a bit hard in the beginning.’
The current population of the village of Shingo is 2,500, which is around how many cows the farm looks after. Out in the peaceful woods and plains of Shingo, the happy cows of Makinotai Green Park roam. Little do they know that their milk is the key to the delicious Premium Drinking Yogurt for which this small village has become so well known.