KAGAMINO, Okayama Prefecture--Teruaki Yabe’s luck certainly changed for the better after he found four-leaf clovers along a street during a stroll.

Yabe, a farmer here, was coming off a disaster to his livelihood and embarking on a new business plan when he thought that four-leaf clovers could sell well as decorations for meals.

His lucky clovers have proved so popular that many orders now come in from hotels and wedding ceremony venues.

His greenhouse, a five-minute drive from the Kagamino town government office, is lined with 250 planters of clovers. While most of them are shamrocks, four-leaf ones can be found among them.

“Four-leaf ones account for 10 percent of these plants,” said Yabe, 54.

Yabe, who hails from Okayama city, worked for a specialized trading firm there but quit the company and began working as a farmer in Kagamino. With no expertise in agriculture, Yabe improved his soil preparation and fertilization methods by trial and error.

About 10 years ago, his hothouse to cultivate shiitake mushrooms collapsed under a heavy snowfall. Around that time, a despondent Yabe realized that bamboo leaves and autumn foliage were popular for use as decorations on dishes at a roadside rest area in Kagamino.

Thinking “things easily discovered in nature could sell well,” Yabe visited a farmer in Tokushima Prefecture who sells leaves for garnishes and other products.

Yabe then started selling fallen leaves.

When taking a stroll in Kagamino one day, he saw a patch of clovers and had a sudden flash of inspiration that “four-leaf clovers may prove popular as decorations.”

He walked around open spaces and found a group of clovers with many four-leaf ones and brought the plant to his farm for cultivation.

He spent two years selecting clovers that have four leaves more often.

Yabe also devised a packaging method that places the leaves on wet sponge to prevent his clovers from being damaged during long deliveries.

When he visited a hotel restaurant to promote his product, the operator said it “definitely wants to buy” the clovers.

His lucky clovers grew in popularity through word of mouth, resulting in a series of orders from other businesses, including a hotel in Tokyo.

The Urbano restaurant in the ANA Crowne Plaza Okayama hotel beside JR Okayama Station is one of Yabe’s customers.

In mid-March, Chihiro Uchida, the 26-year-old chef at the restaurant, was seen cooking strawberry mousse for dessert. In the finishing process, she used tweezers to carefully place two four-leaf clovers on a plate.

“Not only the taste of meals but also their appearance is important,” Uchida said. “Four-leaf clovers are essential to make the plates special.”

Sachiko Miyake, 36, a wedding planner at the hotel, said four-leaf clovers are popular for wedding receptions there because the dishes symbolize good fortune and are visibly appealing to the attendees.

“Many people photograph them (four-leaf clovers) for posts on social networking sites,” Miyake said.

Last year, Yabe began raising lucky clovers at a farm in Shanghai. Demand for the plants is expected to grow in China because more young people and others in the country see four-leaf clovers as a good luck symbol.

“I want my customers to find small bits of happiness by viewing the four-leaf clovers,” Yabe said.

Ten lucky clovers are priced at 2,000 yen ($17.95).