Summary Experience Japanese traditional rice harvesting by hands in organic rice paddy overseeing gorgeous mountainous view. Set your body and mind free 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.
Schedule Gathering; 11:00 am on September 23, at our accommodations, “Chateau Shiozawa.” The nearest railway station is Shiozawa on JR Joetsu line. Let us know if you use rain, so that we will arrange transportation to the hotel.
交通案内 23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 Harvasting rice by sickles by hands. Will be cancelled only in stormy condition. Bring your own lunch for day one. Clothings may get muddy. Insect repellent, a hat/cap. The boots are needed since it is very muddy. The participation guide 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 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.”
On Saturday, we had gorgeous view of golden rice paddy under the blue sky. In order to protect skin, we needed to wear long sleeves. The sunshine was so strong. All of us sweated from the beginning. Mr.FUEKI Akira, a local farmer, taught us the important and difficult skill, to bundle the sheaf, called “Meruke,” in this area.
However in one hour or so, people acquired the ways. Some were just keep cutting and bundling works and some were doing the work taking neighboring persons joyfully. Fresh green colored frogs were jumping out from the ground. Red dragonflies were coming close to us. From a tiny structure to introduce water to the paddy, small fishes were caught and a local biologist explained those as one of endangered species in Japan, called “Shiny-Motsugo.”
On Sunday, weather condition totally changed. We started the work one hour earlier. It was cool and comfortable at the beginning. The work went smoother than the day before. Close to the noon, the rain started. The temperature went down, too. At the end, all of us worked hard to finish. Surprisingly we finished all works from cutting, budding and hanging by shortly after 1 pm.
“I somehow felt appreciation when I thought each of those grains was a ‘seed’ when I faced to those rice. The shining golden rice field might not be illusion. Rice was shining because they were celebrating the final phase to pass the life to the next generation;” a young participant commented.