In the rice paddies in Tochikubo village, Minami-Uonuma, Niigata, which is the heartland of famous Koshi-Hikari-Rice, ears of rice are getting ripped. With less sun shines since mid-August, the progress is bit late but rice paddies are now having beautiful yellowish color. We will conduct harvesting workshop on 13-14 Oct.
Program Fee including lunch on day 2 and insurance; 5,000 JPY. Student discount, 50%; Children under 6 years old, lunch fee and insurance only. Gathering spot; JR Shiozawa Station of Joetsu Line Accommodations; Local Inn, dormitory rooms male/female separated; 7.500 JPY including dinner/breakfast Compliment; 2 kg of harvested rice after sun-dried process.
ECOPLUS held organic rice farming workshop called “Tanbo no I-ro-ha” or “ABC in a rice paddy,” on 8-9 June, 2019 at Tochikubo village in Niigata, Japan, having 35 students from Waseda University in Tokyo.
Since we had very limited rain falls in May, some areas of rice paddies dried up and it helped weeds to grow seriously specially at our non-chemical, totally organic paddies. Students waled into the paddy with bare feet and used fully opened hands like as rakes to clear weeds.
Paddies were filled by water thanks to the rain since Friday evening but in most of the paddies the soil was so solid because of long dry condition that it was difficult to push fingers in the soil and we needed to pull out each weeds. Started the work at 9 am on Sunday, it took 4 hours and more to finish two rice paddies which size is over 1,000 square meters.
Beside weeding in rice paddies, villagers gave them lectures, and a specialist conducted nature tour. Through those students had a chance to feel the relationship between nature, life and community. They left comments like, “I strongly leant the true meaning of to live”, “I understood the hardship of farming”, “I should have more appreciation on food”.
ECOPLUS hosted a group of students from University of Michigan from 19 to 20 May in Minami-Uonuma for their learning on the relation with environment, life and culture through experiencing rice planting, weaving and other activities.
On 19th, they strolled around the village of Tochikubo which is located on the slope of around 500 meters elevation. They were deeply impressed by the scenery of mountains covered by white snow and young green, saying “this land might be so expensive.” They also encountered an old lady who was drying mountain vegetable called “Zenmai.”
On 20th, they experienced traditional rice planting by hands. They screamed a bit while they put their bare feet in the muddy soil of the paddy but later they acquired how to plant young seedlings in line and they finished the work in three hours.
On the last day, 21st, they came back to the city area, “Shiozawa,” to learn about the local ramie cloth called “Echigo-Zyofu,” which has over a thousand year history. Specialists from Echigo-Jofu technique preservation association demonstrated how to get fibers fro the skin of the plant, how to dye the yarn for patterns, and how to weave. Some of the students experienced actual works by their hands.
Through the three-day stay, they seem to deepen the understanding on the relation with life and nature, like getting fuels from the forest, drinking water from the spring, making the water system running around all the terraced rice paddies.
Natsumi, Mr.Ohmae and I went to the supermarket to prepare for today’s exchange session. At 3 pm , we started preparation. Cooking rice, cutting cucumbers and raw fishes.
At 5:30pm, Yapese and host families gathered at Shiozawa Seminar House. The session was held with many local foods. For example, they gave us yellow pickles(Takuan) , sermon, boiled plants(Zenmai), etc. We ate Temaki-sushi.
At the session, Tina met the family who hosted her 16 years ago. The host mother and father came to the session to meet her. They looked so happy and I was impressed.
Mr. Nozawa, who is a photographer, showed us a picture show. It included pictures of Yap and Japan! I haven’t been to Yap , but want to go there. Because all the pictures were beautiful.
After that, Yapese and Japanese had a meeting each. Yapese finished at 11pm. Chaperones and young staff finished around 12 am. Actually, I was sleepy, but it was very good to talk about many things.
From 6 p.m. we have dinner together. Deep fried fish, cooked chicken, salad, soup and rice. Nothing similar to food in Yap, students finished dishes quickly. Tomorrow, we will go to the fish market in TSUKIJI area from 7 a.m. so students went back to their rooms after finishing reflection session.