Tokyo Narita Airport Has A Farm In The Middle Of It
If you had a letter through the door saying an airport will be built on the site of your house, it usually means you’ll have to pack your bags and relocate.
But if you ever think you’re being too stubborn, spare a thought for Takao Shito, a Japanese farmer who downright refuses to surrender his land to those who built the Narito International Airport in Tokyo, Japan.
Shito’s father owned the one household in his village of 28 that refused to bow the airport’s plans. While five houses remain on the airport’s grounds, Shito’s is the only one left in his village.
Although the construction began in 1960, Shito’s father never considered surrendering his land, despite the offer of around $1.6 million (£1.23 million), and instead opted to exercise his legal right to force the airport to build around his land.
Shito’s farm grows up to 10 types of vegetables at any one time including garlic, spring onions and carrots, and sits in the middle of the airport which sees 750,000 flights pass through it each year.
The farmer remains undeterred, though, telling the BBC ‘I’m not interested in money. I want to continue farming’.
My soil is good because it’s been harvested for 100 years. Planting, harvesting and delivering vegetables to satisfied customers – nothing gives me greater joy.
Japanese law stipulates that no citizen can be legally forced to surrender their property and it seems even in the most extreme cases, this right continues to be exercised today.
The environment is without question a noisy one. Being so close to the thunderous engines of a jumbo jet, Shito doesn’t experience a great deal of peace and quiet in his line of work.
However, with the onset of COVID-19, Shito said the pandemic had not affected him and actually reduced the number of flights passing in and out of the airport, leaving him free to farm without undue noise.
In his free time, Shito said he likes to drink and sing karaoke – sounds like if he did ever fancy a move, the UK might not be a bad option.
As the world begins to open up again, Shito will once again have to embrace the unwelcome engines of Narita’s flights. But, he’s not alone. He shares his passion, and perhaps his frustration, with the ten volunteers who help work on his farm.
Shito continues to battle the airport which has not abandoned its hopes of evicting him, and he occasionally still has run-ins with airport security.
He told AFP:
‘Police or airport security. There are times I get stopped. They ask for my ID, even though they know who I am.
‘This is my life’
With Shito’s land being perfect for growing the vegetables, the sales of which comprise his livelihood, he has no plans to jump ship and relocate to land which may not be as suitable for his crops.
We hope can but to one day achieve Shito’s level of resilience.
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