TAC21—short forTender, Active, Communicating for the Earth 21st Century—got their humble beginnings in a 26 square meter shop in Setagaya, Tokyo in 1970. With over 2000 items stocking their shelves, TAC21 aimed to be a place where health-conscious, environmentally-minded people who were interested in delicious food could obtain products and information.
Now based in the small-town Zushi in Kanagawa prefecture, TAC21 carries on that same mission. They strive to introduce quality products to customers and retailers via their website and webstore, “Super Carrot Ninjin-ya,” where you can find seasonings, grains, original food creations, natural cosmetics, and other goods all made without the use of synthetic ingredients.
Ninjin-ya grocery store
A Passion for Honmono and the People Who Create Them
In Japanesehonmono means “genuine or true product.” TAC21 stands by the fact that every product they sell or create is truehonmono. This is tied to their belief that they have a social responsibility to communicate the merits of products that don’t rely on synthetically produced ingredients, but rather aim to carry on traditional practices and realize a more recycling-conscious society.
TAC21’s wide range ofakamoku (sargassum horneri) seaweed products - 17 different products in total
They don’t believe a “perfect” product is one simply made from organic ingredients without the use of agrochemicals and chemical additives. A truly great product is one made through the harmony of carefully selected ingredients and the skills of proud artisans. To do this, TAC21 focuses on forming trusting relationships with the producers who passionately make these goods.
By supporting these producers, TAC21 aims to continue the heritage of traditional Japanese crafts and cuisine the way they’ve been created for centuries. They believe this plays an important role in maintaining authentic, environmentally-minded techniques that are not only better for ourselves but also better for the natural world.
Tradition as a Path Forward
Food and culture are always evolving, and as such, TAC21 believes the way forward is to embrace traditional methods and create innovative products that meet our current needs using the knowledge we’ve inherited from past generations.
They choose to work with farmers and producers who use more traditional, organic farming techniques and aim to find ways to raise awareness about our consumption habits as a society. This is particularly important in a market overflowing with cheaply made consumer goods that make it difficult for small-scale farmers and craftspeople to stay afloat. While this approach may result in products that are a little more expensive than conventional mass-market goods, TAC21 believes the quality of their products is far superior, not to mention the added value of supporting small-scale traditional creators as well as the environment.
Leading by Example
The small seaside town of Zushi
About an hour from where they got their start in Tokyo, TAC21 is proud to be working in a lush, natural area surrounded by the sea and mountains. It is in this small seaside town of Zushi that they’re making efforts towards developing products using locally sourced ingredients. This is part of their firm belief that the development of small local regions will lead to a revitalization of traditional food heritage and a growth in consideration for the natural world. One of their original creations using local ingredients is a line of products made using Zushiakamoku, a type of sea vegetable, and includes things like soy sauce, vinegar, bouillon, and tea, and even cosmetics for people with sensitive skin.
TAC21’s CEO, Takoh-san, has been involved in natural foods for a long time. She is intellectually curious while focusing on ways of contributing to the local community:
"Zushi is an area that has a lot of ocean, but not a lot of agriculture, so there isn’t a large variety of products. In the past, fishermen treatedakamoku as a hindrance, but now various studies have shown that it is nutritious, and we have been trying to make it a Zushi specialty. Starting with soy sauce and vinegar, it is now being used in a variety of products, including a vegan vegetable broth, bouillon, curry, and sweets. In the future, I would like to seeakamoku become as common aswakame andmozuku.”
Akamoku (sargassum horneri) seaweed
It is through developing new products like these that they hope to improve the lives of their customers. They create and promote foods families can feel safe eating and cosmetics that not only heal one’s skin, but also one’s soul. They want to continue to create limited quantity products using the skills of small-batch producers that contribute towards a healthier environment.
TAC21 believes we shouldn’t be made to choose between products that are “safe” and products that are delicious and enjoyable to use. Iin the end, those made from the combination of quality ingredients and craft are the ones that help support a safe, rich, and happy life.