Sunday, June 21, 2009
Taue: Rice Planting By Hand And By Machine
I did taue (rice planting) for the first time on Saturday. I went up to Kumagaya by Arakawa River in north/central Saitama to get mud between my toes and sun on my cheeks.
I managed to do about five lines (how is that for a terrific blog post title!) and they were not too crooked either as far as I could tell (and noone made any silly comments).
That area is not organic but they use as little pesticides as possible. We saw frogs and ladybugs, and there were birds and ducks.
The fields were created in the 1960s with modern irrigation. Before that, there were no factories on the horizon, and rice paddies as far as the eye could see.
The farmer, Negishi-san and his wife took good care of our small group of 3 who had assembled from Consumers Union of Japan and the local Seikatsu Club. As a gift, he got my food ranking book, signed by yours truly.
Neighbours selling their fields, new farmers arriving who don't follow (or understand) the rules (and the odd Swede in a silly hat doing his very best) and all the other difficulties that farmers no doubt share all over the world... Negishi-san makes terrific miso with his own soybeans and koji, and is a strong member of the Daichi Mamoru movement that wants to contribute to Japan's food culture by growing local crops for local consumption. He also grows barley for a beer brewery, but they had bad luck this year with the crop.
Meeting him made me feel even more concerned about food security in Japan, but I was also encouraged that good people like him are not giving up in spite of all the difficulties.
These are the trays with tiny rice plants, that we had to tear off and put into the mud. The machine does it automatically, using pincers.
At the end of the day, I felt really refreshed and didn't even need a nap on the long train journey home... Here is more from Peko Peko, a Kyoto Foodie blogger I like:
Properly, taue is very serious business in Japan... growing rice was a matter of survival in Japan. Life and death. Even today, to leave a bowl of rice with even a few grains uneaten is very, very bad form.
Never-the-less, we city slickers (employees, friends and family of Kitagawa Honke) went up to rural Kyoto on a chartered bus and experienced rice planting. And of course, no gathering in Japan would be complete without accompanying food and drink. So after planting in the rain and hosing the mud off of ourselves, we barbecued in the greenhouse. So despite the downpour, we were able to party unabated.
We just planted a very small corner of the paddy and some city kids got to experience what surely the vast majority of Japanese that ever lived made their living by - the cultivation of rice.
Blogs I Like
- Ad B: Japan Navigator
- Adventures of a (Swedish) Salariman in Tokyo
- Amy: Blue Lotus
- Boing Boing: Wonderful Things
- Brendan: UNU OurWorld 2.0
- Hiroko & Rick: Itadakimasu
- Jared B: Tokyo Green Space
- Joan: Popcorn Homestead
- Jon: Toshogu or As I See Japan... From L.A.
- Justin B: The Rational Pessimist (Climate & Risk)
- Kat: Food Adventures in Japan
- Ken: KenElwood in semi-rural Japan
- Mari: Watashi to Tokyo
- MTC: Shisaku
- Otakimura: In The Pines
- P: Pacific Islander
- Peko Peko: Kyoto Foodie
- Richard H: Spike Japan
- Risa & Kirk: Savory Japan
- Robert: Pure Land Mountain
- Shizuoka Gourmet
- Ten Thousand Things
- Tom: Kitchen Garden in Japan
Links I Like
- News: About Sweden in English
- News: BBC
- News: Der Spiegel (Germany) in English
- News: Deutche Welle
- News: FT Asia (UK, EU)
- News: Kyoto Journal (Japan)
- News: NHK World Society & Others (Japan)
- News: People's Daily (China)
- News: Telegraph (UK)
- News: The Local (Sweden)
- News: Yomiuri Online (Japan)
- News: Yonhap (Korea)
- NGOs/News: Organic Consumers Association (US)
- NGOs: Amnesty
- NGOs: Consumers Union (US) Food
- NGOs: Consumers Union of Japan
- NGOs: Greenpeace
- NGOs: Greenz.jp
- NGOs: Japan for Sustainability
- NGOs: Japan Organic Agriculture Association
- NGOs: Japan Vegetarian Society
- Shops: Alishan Organic Center
- Shops: Eco to Waza (GreenJapan)
- Shops: Warabe Mura
- Stuff: Japan Probe