I received a reply rapidly from Takekawa Hidenori-san 竹川英識 of Sainone: he said he wanted to make it clear that he spoke no English but added that, providing I was able to communicate in Japanese, he would be happy for me to come along for a nōgyō-taiken 農業体験 preliminary farming experience and did still have a place for a kenshūsei 研修生 intern. I took that as a good sign and got back to him straight away, making a phone call to reassure him that my Japanese was good enough to understand orders and engage in ordinary conversation. That seemed to do the trick, so I arranged to come visit the following friday, getting the early (arriving at 8.24) train from Tokyo to Kazusa Ichinomiya Station 上総一ノ宮駅 where Takekawa Maiko-san 竹川麻衣子, Hidenori's wife, picked me up in her car, small son in tow.
We Are The Farm. How could you resist eating at a restaurant with a name like this?! Not only does the name sound great - like a rallying call to lovers of healthy food and cutting-out-the-middleman - but what I read about them seemed to indicate an operation dedicated to bringing good food to the masses, making vegetables fashionable, and advocating a return to good, old-fashioned organic farming.