Take a break from fast lane at one-of-a-kind retreat in Chiba
Spread over two acres of farmland in eastern Chiba, Brown’s Field defies simple categorization. The estate is part detox retreat, part modern eco-village and part cooking school. But no matter how people choose to define this slice of countryside, Brown’s Field is, in many ways, a place that time forgot.
Admittedly, the tree houses, Mongolian yurt, guesthouse and rustic barn with macrobiotic café don’t lend themselves to images of old Japan, nor do the belly dance or yoga classes that are offered on-site. But in the hearts of both the estate and its founders, there remains an underlying traditional ethos: simple living in harmony with the natural environment.
Ten years ago, macrobiotic chef/author/teacher Deco Nakajima and her photojournalist husband Everett Brown moved to the remote area, embracing country life by using age-old Japanese farming practices to grow their own vegetables.
The couple soon decided to share their lifestyle by opening the macrobiotic Rice Terrace Cafe. Nakajima’s cooking skills, combined with the tranquil setting, attracted visitors from all over the world who were searching for a glimpse of Old Japan and a sustainable way of life. “We’ve had interns from around 20 countries,” says Brown, referring to visitors who come to stay for varying lengths of time. “We now have an Italian gelato maker interning with us for the winter and an American carpenter who is building a tree house.”
Interns and more casual visitors find an array of activities waiting for them at Brown’s Field: belly dancing workshops, yoga, harvest festivals, cooking lessons, detox programs, classes on building with natural bamboo, and organic rice and vegetable farming seminars, to name a few.
“The total concept is health and happiness,” says Brown. To that end, the center offers weeklong or weekend fasting programs, with courses running once a month. Groups of two or more can arrange their own visits by appointment.
The first step for participants in the program is to rid their systems of impurities. “A lot of people wanting to change their lifestyle — especially if they want to change their diet — find that their intestines are clogged up, so don’t have the efficiency to absorb nutrients from just a grain- and vegetable-based diet,” explains Brown. “Enemas are a good way to help improve the efficiency of the intestines.”
The dieting program can be tailored to individual needs, but typically includes fasting, supplements and colonics, as well as workshops. The latter cover topics like aromatherapy and less traditional practices such as aura-soma color therapy and crystal ball healing.
Those who prefer a more mainstream experience can stick to the cooking classes based on macrobiotic principles. The lessons are available in Japanese or English and can be catered to all learners, from a group of friends on a weekend getaway to workers on a corporate retreat.
Thanks to the wide array of services on offer, Brown’s Field is making a name for itself. “The Thai government contacted us in June and brought over a group of 20, including doctors, dieticians and health practitioners, to learn about macrobiotics,” recalls Brown. In the evening, the cafe doubles as a restaurant/bar serving dinner and drinks when a large group comes to stay.
Looking back, the traditional Japanese way of life and its focus on community reveals an ideal model for sustainable living. Looking forward, Nakajima and Brown aim to keep this vision alive, sharing the gospel of returning to nature.
See www.brownsfield-jp.com or www.riceterracecafe.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).