Shunji Ono, 71, and his wife Mitsuyo, 70, are farmers in Yamagata Prefecture's Sagae City. Besides taking care of the rice paddies their ancestors have tended for hundreds of years, the Onos are famous for growing Sato Nishiki, the sweetest and most expensive Japanese cherries. Developed about 90 years ago by local farmer Eisuke Sato, and only grown in Japan, Sato Nishiki are considered perfect for ochugen (summer gifts), with 500 grams of the highest grade selling for エ10,000 in Tokyo. Since their arranged marriage 50 years ago, Shunji and Mitsuyo have worked side by side, sharing three meals at home and sleeping on futons next to one another. The two believe that a marriage with plenty of jokes and gaman (endurance) bears the sweetest fruit.

Shunji: Marry the person you feel relaxed with. I had another omiai (arranged meeting), and that girl really wanted to marry me because my family is quite rich as we have lots of land. But I felt that if I'd married her, I'd lose out to her. Like I would pull out all my hair because of the stress. But with Mitsuyo, there is none of that. With her I laugh so much that my face is filled with wrinkles — and look at all the hair still on my head! We work together every day, and we sleep beside each other every night.

Mitsuyo: That was our parents' order! I lived with my parents-in-law for 35 years. Most of that time there were 11 of us in the house: grandparents, parents, my husband's sister, her family and us. It has been so natural and easy for me. I think once you decide to listen to your elders and be obedient, life is easy.