A field of bright orange flowers spread across Kojohama in Shiraoi. The name of the flower is the calendula. It is a medical herb that has long been used in Europe as a skin guard to protect damaged skin and mucous membranes.
The oils and extracts of the flower are used to make Natural Island's popular Calendula Tezumi Series (cleansing, soap, lotion, and oil).
They also manufacture other items using Hokkaido materials, all of which are available nationwide through mail order and sales have been increasing year by year.
Yamamoto Yoshifumi, who is in charge of public relations for Natural Skincare Garden Nachu no Mori comments, “Reiko Komatsu, who serves as representative director of the company, developed hypoallergenic skincare products that can be used by parents and children from newborns onward, and in 1996, she established a company called Natural Science in Tokyo to sell the products under the Mama & Kids brand. In search for ingredients, she visited Hokkaido and found St. John's wort, an herb that should not grow wild in Japan, on the Karikachi Pass in Tokachi, which led to the establishment of our sister company, Natural Island.”
“She asked farmers in the village of Makkari to grow St. John's wort and extracted the active ingredients to develop a treatment oil, but items with herbal aromas are not recommended for babies and pregnant women. If released by Natural Science, which had previously made skincare products for babies and up, it could cause confusion. Therefore she established a sister company, Natural Island, with its head office registered in Sapporo, in order to focus on the manufacturing of products rooted in Hokkaido.”
Natural Island was established in 2010. Seven years later, the factory Natural Factory Hokkaido started operation in Shiraoi. “Every year, employees would go to contract farmers to help them during their harvest season, and the spring water they drank was surprisingly delicious. Since water is the foundation of skincare products, they felt a strong desire to produce cosmetics using clean water from Hokkaido.”
It was in 2011 that they came across Kojohama in Shiraoi during our pursuit of high-quality water. There was a junior high school that was scheduled to close near a shinsui park where underground water from Lake Kuttara gushed out.
In 2013, after the junior high school was closed, they acquired the site from Shiraoi. The Natural Factory was newly established on the site.
The water used in the factory, as well as the water used in places such as the restaurant, beauty salon, and water playground in the garden, is all underground water from Lake Kuttara. It is chlorine-free, and is used after independent water quality tests are conducted daily to confirm its safety.
Natural Science and its sister company Natural Island operate Natural Skincare Garden Nachu no Mori. The factory and garden were developed in stages, and in December 2022, the Nature and Science Museum Mori no Kosha was completed in a renovated school building of the former Kojo Junior High School.
As soon as you enter, you will see a sofa in the shape of Lake Kuttara, the source of the water used in making the products. Looking up, you will see LED water drop lights that resemble raindrops. This creates a large diorama depicting the eternal flow of water.
Natural Skincare Garden Nachu no Mori employs about 150 people in its factory, garden, farm, and museum. Ninety percent of them are hired from Shiraoi and the neighboring city of Noboribetsu.
In addition, the farm works with an NPO that provides employment support for people with disabilities, and pays wages twice the average wage creating a large number of new jobs.
There are many benefits for the farmers who grow the herbs. Not only do they have sales prospects because cultivation is under contract and all herbs are purchased, but they can also rely on the help of employees from Tokyo and Sapporo during the busy seasons, such as harvesting.
In 2020, Shiraoi, Noboribetsu, and Natural Science signed a comprehensive regional cooperation agreement for regional development and they also have a system of cooperation in place.
Yamamoto says, “We have clean water and powerful vegetation. The land and people are generous and large enough to accommodate all kinds of things making the possibilities endless.”
Natural Skincare Garden Nachu no Mori
Kojohama 393-12, Shiraoi-cho, Shiraoi-gun, Hokkaido, Japan
Natural Island Co., Ltd.