It was many years ago, but apple-farming guru Akinori Kimura remembers his breakthrough well.

The 57-year-old Kimura recounts how after leaving high school he joined a company in Tokyo but returned to Hirosaki, his hometown in Aomori Prefecture, after three years to marry and take up apple farming.

Restricted from using pesticides and chemical fertilizers on their land because of severe reactions they caused on his wife's skin, Kimura gradually reduced his reliance on the artificial farming aids with the goal of phasing them out completely in a matter of years.