Japan Tea Guide – Nihoncha Seikatsu guides you through a variety of moving experiences. Make your life with tea more enjoyable. [Japan Tea Guide / Kazutaka Miura]

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of tea related media, and the delivery of information about Japanese tea in English has increased considerably.

The information provided by such media can be roughly divided into three categories: tea knowledge, information about the past such as reports on the past event, and information about the future, that is a preview of upcoming events.

Knowledge and past information has been accumulated by various media, but future information is fragmented by each production area and organizer, making it extremely difficult for the general public to find the right information.

The web media Nihoncha Seikatsu – Japan Tea Guide that we will be introducing this time is a web media that disseminates the latest information from all over the country, not only about the past but also about the future. Another feature of the site is that it provides detailed information about Japanese tea in both Japanese and English.

Nihoncha Seikatsu not only introduces Japanese tea, tea culture, tea producing areas and Japanese tea cafes throughout Japan, but also Japanese tea cafes abroad. In addition, information on upcoming Japanese tea-related events throughout the country is also posted from time to time. Furthermore, to popularize and allow to enjoy the Japanese tea culture they not only disseminate information on the web media, but also host real events related to Japanese tea.

We spoke with Kazutaka Miura, the president of Nihoncha Seikatsu LLC  – the company that communicates the appeal of Japanese tea, which is changing and developing in various ways both domestically and internationally.

Kazutaka Miura

Kazutaka Miura was born in Shizuoka to a tea farming family. He worked for a publishing company and a PR firm, and was involved in media-related work for many years. At some point in his life, he became captivated by tea and entered the world of Japanese tea through a number of connections and coincidences. After working for a tea wholesaler, Miura-san started his own business – Nihoncha Seikatsu in 2021. He runs the Japanese tea web media Nihoncha Seikatsu, which provides information on Japanese tea specialty shops and cafes, and the English version of the site – Japan Tea Guide. In addition, he collaborates with producers and businesses across Japan to create various Japanese tea events.

Creating a Japanese tea guide that consumers, readers, and everyone can enjoy!

Q: Please briefly tell us about Nihoncha Seikatsu.

Miura: With the concept of bringing the inspiring experience of Japanese tea to the world, we operate the Japanese tea web media Nihoncha Seikatsu as a brewer and communicator of Japanese tea, plan and manage Japanese tea events, and provide Japanese tea catering services.

Q: What kind of web media is Nihoncha Seikatsu?

Miura: The web media Nihoncha Seikatsu provides the latest information on Japanese tea culture as a tea communicator. You might think of it as a web media guide for enjoying Japanese tea,  that provides  information on Japanese tea stores, events, and other tea-related topics.

One of the unique features of Nihoncha Seikatsu is that it is available in both English and Japanese so that the information can be conveyed not only to Japanese people, but also to people overseas who are interested in Japanese tea.

(photo by Hiroki Yoshida)

My title in the industry is an editor, and I hope you can think of Nihoncha Seikatsu as a guide to Japanese tea made by the editor.

Q: Why did you decide to create Nihoncha Seikatsu?

Miura: Different people live in different environments and have different interests and concerns. There must be a way to enjoy Japanese tea that suits each and every one of them. That is why I decided to create a guide for people to enjoy Japanese tea in a way that suits them.

(photo by Hiroki Yoshida)

Q: What is the mission of Nihoncha Seikatsu?

Miura: Mission…Right now, rather than trying to accomplish something, I would like to be closer to tea fans, customers, and consumers, and to be able to catch what they need and want. 

Is this going to be enough for a mission? (laughs) … Oh! It is to create something enjoyable. My mission is to create a fun place. I think we need fun and we need to smile more.

Q: What is the current state of Nihoncha Seikatsu?

Miura: The current state of Nihoncha Seikatsu is that it is about 12 years old. It still feels like a preparation phase in my mind. With the Japanese Tea Collection 2023 event finally over, I feel like I have finally completed the preparation phase one.

The next phase will be on how to communicate about Japanese tea and how to create and nurture fans. I think this will be a big challenge.

Japanese Tea Collection event. (photo by Nihoncha Seikatsu)

Up until now, I have only worked on events within the Japanese tea industry, but I feel that there are limits to that. We need to let the outside world know more about Japanese tea, and I feel that this is what I have to do as an editor/publicist.

A tea event I planned was so much fun that I got hooked.

Q: What kind of person are you?

Miura: I am the person who runs Nihoncha Seikatsu. In a broader sense, I am an editor/public relations person.

Q: Were you originally interested in tea?

Miura: No, originally I had no interest in tea at all (laughs).

I have been interested in fashion since I was in middle school, and I wanted to move to the metropolitan area of Tokyo – the center of fashion.

My wish came true and I entered a university in Kanagawa and moved to Tokyo. At the Faculty of Economics, I was in a department that had nothing to do with fashion, and I thought, “Even if I stay here, I will not be able to learn anything about fashion!” So I quit the university after a year (laughs).

After that, I enrolled in a fashion school to become a full-fledged stylist. I apprenticed as an assistant to a popular stylist I admired, but I could not do the job at all and was fired after a few months. A year later, I decided to go back to the mentor who fired me and decided to save up some money.

The bicycle I traveled with during the 3-month trip to Europe. (photo by Nihoncha Seikatsu)

However, strangely enough, once I had saved up some money, I found myself wanting to see authentic European fashion with my own eyes, so I spent three months traveling by bicycle through Italy, France, and England. At the time of my trip, London was the only place that did not make a good impression on me (laughs). The people in Italy and France were kind, but at that time I thought I would never go to London again.

Q: After your three-month trip to Europe, did you return home and become a stylist?

Miura: No, I did not become a stylist, I became an editor of a fashion magazine. Due to some connections, I ended up working at a publishing company. I worked at that company for about three years, and was involved in fashion as an editor.

When the world fell into recession after the Lehman Shock, I thought to myself that all I knew was fashion! If I did not pay more attention to the world, I might not survive. So I started studying economics on my own. I came back to economics, which I had quit in college as if it was a waste of time (laughs).

Gradually, my desire to work overseas grew stronger, so I changed jobs and ended up working at a publishing company in Thailand. I worked there for three years, editing a free newspaper. After working in Thailand I decided that I wanted to work in New York or Europe next, so I decided to get a visa and work in London for 2 years (laughs). It is strange because when I traveled in Europe for 3 months, I thought I would never go back to London again.

Q: Did you also work as an editor in London?

Miura: I had nothing to do with editing at all. I was in sales. I was working for a food company in London, and my main product was fish, which I sold to restaurants and eateries. I spent two years dealing with fish, so much so that mackerel appeared in my dreams at the time (laughs).

The president of the company also appreciated me and expected me to stay on in the form of full-time employment after my visa expired, but… typical to me I made the choice not to stay and return to Japan.

I decided to return to Japan because I had unfinished business working for a PR company in Japan. Working for a PR company was one of my major goals.

Q: So you returned to Japan and started working at a PR company?

Miura: Yes, after returning to Japan, I started working at a venture PR company. It was around that time that I became involved with Japanese tea.

Kitagawa-san of Kaneka Kitagawa Seicha (far left) and Miura-san (far right). (photo by Nihoncha Seikasu)

Also, around this time, I started helping with public relations for Kaneka Kitagawa Seicha. I have known Kitagawa-san since high school. Since we were good friends, we naturally started talking about organizing events, and in 2015, we held an event called Tea Labo Green together. This was a big turning point for me.

Tea Labo Green Event (photo by Nihoncha Seikatsu)

We planned the Tea Labo Green event, and the day after it was held, I was lost in tea. The event was a lot of fun.

I was working for a PR company at the time, so I felt sad thinking that I might not be able to get involved with tea again. I wanted to be more involved with tea and did not want this event to end. So we decided to continue the Tea Labo Green events for more than the second time.

NEW Title website

Office Green Tea, a corporate tea subscription service that delivers tea to offices every month.

Later, we created a website called NEW Title, did catering, and created an office-specific service – Office Green Tea, before the pandemic.

Q: Finally, you launched Nihoncha Seikatsu after the pandemic, right?

Miura: That is right. Until then I worked as a member of Kaneka Kitagawa Seicha and had been involved in the Japanese tea industry. I felt the necessity and importance of revitalizing the tea industry as a whole, and that is why I started Nihoncha Seikatsu.

I went to various tea-producing regions, and at the same time I was also addicted to traveling to China, so I went there frequently. I was originally inspired to go to China because they had a big tea exhibition called TEA EXPO.

Miura-san was amazed by the TEA EXPO in China. (photo by Nihoncha Seikatsu)

When I actually visited, I was blown away by that TEA EXPO. The scale was just too big. And it was just so much fun. Since then, I have been going twice a year.

I had been planning a Japanese tea event in Japan, but after seeing the scale of the TEA EXPO in China, I decided that I wanted to work on a bigger Japanese tea event than the one I had been planning.

Valuing free thinking. Navigating what we have now to make it even better. Nihoncha Seikatsu.

Q: Did you learn anything from China’s TEA EXPO from an event perspective?

Miura: There is a lot. I think the most important thing is the infinite power of expression. What Japan should learn from China’s tea culture through things like China’s TEA EXPO is individuality and originality.

Witnessing the Chinese tea culture, where people freely express their own tea and individuality without fixed ideas of what tea should be, I asked myself, “What is it that I want to express as Nihoncha Seikatsu? What is it that we want to convey?”.

(photo by Hiroki Yoshida)

Since I am an editor myself, I do not think there is a need to create something new with Nihoncha Seikatsu. I am just an editor who makes what we currently have even better, and a public relations person who spreads it.

I would like to continue editing and disseminating Japanese tea, the good thing that Japan has, in the form of events, web media, and catering, to deliver information to as many people as possible, and support them in envisioning what they want to do with tea.

There is nothing more painful, yet more romantic to work with than Japanese tea.

Q: What does tea mean to you?

Miura: This may be a common answer, but… everything. Myself? Life? That is the only way I can think of it.

(photo by Hiroki Yoshida)

For me personally, I do not think there is anything else as romantic as Japanese tea.

There are many challenges in the world of Japanese tea, and no matter how hard we try, new walls keep coming up, and there is no end in sight. It is often painful (laughs).

I have never encountered something so elusive, and hard to reach a goal of, and even if I devoted all my life to it there still would not be enough time.

That is why through Nihoncha Seikatsu I would like to support people who have dreams about Japanese tea that they cannot achieve on their own, and see more new perspectives on Japanese tea. To that end, I will do what I can as the editor of Nihoncha Seikatsu.

Q: Do you feel any difficulties in working with Japanese tea?

Miura: I think, for better or worse, it has a long history. In other words, it is the weight of history.

Japanese tea has its own culture and history in each region. In addition, each person has his or her own personal history with  tea. Where, when, with whom, and what they drank in the past are all so different from each other that it is difficult to approach Japanese tea.

(photo by Hiroki Yoshida)

Many people in Japan have been exposed to Japanese tea in different environments, so their concept of what is normal is different. For some people, it may seem cheap, for others, it may seem expensive. It may be something worth paying for, or it may be normal to be offered for free. Of course, each individual’s original experience that makes up that “normal” is different.

The history of Japanese tea is the accumulation of each individual’s past. However, since everyone has a different original experience, their values and ideas about tea are different. We have to make different proposals for each person. When I think about it that way, I feel that it is difficult to approach.

Q: Are there any people, services, or industries that you are paying attention to?

Miura: The coffee and sake industries. I am always conscious of these two industries and have respect for them.

For example, in terms of events, coffee and sake are both exciting and on a completely different scale. I would like to grow Japanese tea events to the same scale.

Q: What do you think the future of the Japanese tea industry will be like? What do you want it to look like?

I try not to think about the future of the tea industry (laughs). If there is a future that I hope for, it is that it will be a bright one. Yes, I would like to think the future is bright. I do not see darkness. If you look at it, you see it is bright.