"I just picked fresh nori," he said. "Follow me." We entered a prefab building next door, where the briny aroma of the sea hit us as we made our way to two huge stainless-steel tanks filled with a black-green goop—raw seaweed. Hatada pointed to a whirring, 50-foot-long piece of machinery. I scrambled atop the contraption to watch rushing water pour minced nori into molds. Sponges on mechanical arms pressed the seaweed to a papery thinness before a conveyor belt fed the molds into a slow dryer for curing. I rejoined Hatada below, and he told me that this automated equipment mimics the original handmade process. He and his wife share round-the-clock shifts during the peak of the October-to-May harvest season to painstakingly coax this operation along, carefully monitoring and calibrating the soaking and drying times, the thickness of the sheets, and other factors to produce their nori. He pointed to a worn couch in the corner of the building. "This is where I nap during the season," he said. He led me to the other end of the huge machine, where bundled sheets were being gracefully spit out into neat stacks of nori, some 2 million sheets of which Hatada and his family, including his wife, brother, and sister-in-law, produce per year. All of it is graded according to when it was picked, and then divided into subgrades based on 100 officially established criteria, such as color, shininess, aroma, and softness.