ECOPLUS conducted the rice planting workshop on the weekend of May 21-22 in Tochikubo village in Minami-Uonuma, Niigata. The workshop had been shrunk as one day trip because of the COVID-19 and this was the first time to organize as the full-program since 2019. For the rice planting workshop, from elementary school kids to retired person, in total of around 30 were joined.
On Saturday, we gathered at the “Chateau Hotel Ipponsugi“ near the village. We moved up to the top of the mountain ridge by cars and observed the view of the Uonuma basin which is the home of the famous “Koshihikari” rice. The mountain area was once a bottom of ancient ocean. According to the locals, the minerals once accumulated in the bottom of the ocean is still seeping out, then provides rich nutrition to the rice.
Through the mountain ridge, parts of ancient path since the medieval tome were remained. We strolled along the small part of the path which was still covered by snow. Edible mountain vegetables were also identified in the forest near the path.
In the Tochikubo village, Mr. FUEKI Akira gave us a lecture on rice growing focusing on rice planting period. Many works needed before the rice planting, like spreading organic fertilizer, tilling, fine tilling with water, selection of well grown seeds with salt water, making seed bed, and others. Participants were impressed by so many steps with well experienced skills and knowledges were hidden in daily life in rice farming.
At the dinner, local edible vegetable were offered in different dishes. Surprisingly, the long dinner table which was decorated with local vines with purple flower and arrangements of edible vegetables provided the atmosphere close to the nature. The dinner was followed b the slide show of different seasons of the area.
On Sunday, it was still raining in the breakfast time but when we arrived to the rice paddy, rain was almost stoped. At the begging, we used an hexagon wood frame with 3 miters wide to mark on the soil to identify where the seedlings should be sit. First, OHMAE of ECOPLUS made one round trip, then other participant followed. It was not easy to go straight. Elementary school kids and high school student also tried to roll the frame with the supporting calls.
Rice paddy was not so cold and we could feel the softness of the soil. In fact, bear feet would be the best to experience the rice planting. Big rubber boots would make big foot prints which might lay down planted seedlings. With bear feet, we could feel the difference of depth of the mud and difference of the quality of the soil.
Time by time, we had blue sky with beautiful sunshine. Participants accustomed to plant seedlings gradually then, all the rice paddy were filled with young seedling in order by the noon. The lunch was prepared by a local inn; rice balls, cooked mountain vegetables and miso-soup with different mountain vegetables.
Coming back the hotel, we had the reflection session. As a full program for two days, we had lecture and other activities in advance of the actual works in the rice paddy. Many participants said, with the enough background understandings, actual rice planting work was more meaningful experience. ECOPLUS also confirmed that the full program could offer deeper learning on rice, history, tradition. and sustainability.
Next workshop is scheduled on the weekend of June 11-12 with the theme of “weeding.”
Summary In the south-east facing terraced rice paddies, we will clear weeds in the 100% chemical free rice paddy by hands. Weedkiller and other chemical materials have only 60-year-history. Until then people had been growing rice organically for thousands years. Through the weeding works by hands, we will learn about the relation between the nature, human and agriculture.
交通案内 6月11日午前8時52分東京駅発とき309号、10時21分越後湯沢着 10時30分越後湯沢発上越線普通列車長岡行、10時45分上越国際スキー場前駅着 Joetsu Shinkansen Toki 309 Departing Tokyo at 08:52, arriving Echigo-Yuzawa at 10:21 Joetsu local line Departing Echigo-Yuzawa at 10:30, arriving Joetukokusai Ski-jo mae at 10:45
Contents and bringing Strolling the area, lecture on rice growing, interaction session and weeding by hands. Will be cancelled only in stormy condition. Bring your own lunch for Saturday, and water during activities. Clothings may get muddy. Insect repellent, a hat/cap. We recommend to come into the paddy with bare feet to feel the soil directly. Beach sandals are useful to wash your feet in a stream. More information will be provided for those whose participation is confirmed.
定員 Limit of participants. 20人をめどとします。Up to 20 participants.
参加費 Fee (＊宿泊先変更により、変更。参加決定者にお知らせします） 18,500円（プログラム費、1泊2食の宿泊費、2日目の昼食、保険を含む）。男女別相部屋です。ご家族連れは調整させていただきます。1人部屋使用の場合は、1,000円増し。大学生以下中学生までは、13,500円。小学生は9,500円。地元からの参加で宿泊しない場合は、大人9,500円、学生4,500円、小学生は1,000円。 18,500 JPY including program fee, accommodations with two meals, lunch on Sunday, insurance. Shared room. Single room available with extra 1,000 JPY. 13,500 JPY for students from Junior high to college, 9,500 JPY for primary school students.
Summary Experience Japanese traditional rice planting by hands in organic rice paddy overseeing gorgeous mountainous view. Release your body and mind restricted by Covid-19 in the safe open air. You may also deepen the insight of rice and agriculture through the workshop, as well as Japanese history and society.
交通案内 21日午前8時52分東京駅発とき309号、10時21分越後湯沢着 10時30分越後湯沢発上越線普通列車長岡行、10時47分塩沢着 Joetsu Shinkansen Toki 309 Departing Tokyo at 08:52, arriving Echigo-Yuzawa at 10:21 Joetsu local line Departing Echigo-Yuzawa at 10:30, arriving Shiozawa at 10:47
Contents and bringing Planting seedlings by hands. Will be cancelled only in stormy condition. Bring your own lunch for Saturday, and water during activities. Clothings may get muddy. Insect repellent, a hat/cap. We recommend to come into the paddy with bare feet to feel the soil directly. Beach sandals are useful to wash your feet in a stream. More information will be provided for those whose participation is confirmed.
定員 Limit of participants. 20人をめどとします。Up to 20 participants.
参加費 Fee 18,500円（プログラム費、1泊2食の宿泊費、2日目の昼食、保険を含む）。男女別相部屋です。ご家族連れは調整させていただきます。1人部屋使用の場合は、1,000円増し。中学生以上大学生までは、13,500円。小学生は9,500円。地元からの参加で宿泊しない場合は、大人9,500円、学生4,500円、小学生は1,000円。 18,500 JPY including program fee, accommodations with two meals, lunch on Sunday, insurance. Shared room. Single room available with extra 1,000 JPY. 13,500 JPY for students from Junior high to college, 9,500 JPY for primary school students.
ECOPLUS conduced an “on-line tour” in Minamiuonuma on Jan 30, 2022. That is one of four tours which were organized by a tour company called “KNOTWORLD” with the budget of Niigata prefecture government.
For the tour, we had more than 30 participants from all over Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa. From 11 a.m. the tour was started under the theme of “snow” guided by TAKANO Takako, executive director of ECOPLUS.
At the beginning, snow cover rice field of Tochikubo village was introduced. The place is 300 meters higher than town center. So the snow was reaching to 3 meters. Then, the camera moved to the house of Mr. FUEKI Akira, who has been growing non-chemical organic rice. He explained the harvest of the last season was good because of well weather condition.
The sun-dried non-chemical organic rice was delivered to the participants in advance so that they prepared cooked rice for this “tour.” Tasting the rice together, comment filed was filled with voices, like “Texture is soft,” “Sweet,” “Well sticky,” and “Grains are powerful.”
Mr. FUEKI also showed us how to manage a lot of snow fallen on the roof using traditional wooden slide. Participants learned the ways of living in deep snow.
In the later part of the tour, we visited Shiozawa Tsumugi Textile Museum. The area has more than 1,200 years of history of fabric. In old days, hemp closes and later silk ones were weaved. Mr. NAGUMO Masanori, the curator, explained the process from getting strings from fiber of outer skin of hemp plant to weaving with very traditional weaving mechanism.
Although it was a very short and on-line tour, participants asked many questions and comments through out the program and many are enjoying eating rice during this lunch time period while joining the tour.
It was the first time for ECOPLUS to organize the virtual tour. We learned a lot about online techniques, skills and tips for such unpredictable time caused by COVID-19. We really appreciate the kind support and collaboration by all participants and related persons today.
We are happy to announce the special sale of the sun-dried organic rice grown in our rice paddy in Tochikubo village, Minamiuonuma. We conduct this sale in order to accept responses for the “Online Tour” on January 30. Only limited amount of the rice we have, so in one order, up to 5 kgs is available. The order from is on the bottom of this page.
No chemical materials, like pesticides and weed killers, were used. Fertilizer is 100% organic. Traditional sun drying process on the rack was taken. Because of so many hand works, such totally organic rice is almost vanished even in this Minamiuonuma, the heart land of famous “Koshihikari Rice.”