Rice Planting at Lake Kawaguchi

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I learn how to grow rice in Kawaguchiko town in Yamanashi. Mr. Hirata organizes the study meetings and he instructs us on how to grow it.

Rice has been the staple food of Japan but many people haven’t had experience growing it. In fact it was my first experience to plant paddy in my life. It was such an exciting one. Walking in the mud was more difficult than I expected and the touch of the mud was amazing. Working in the paddy field is very good exercise. It can build up the muscles of our legs, back and hip.

As I was doing the job, I concentrated on it as I did Zazen. It was hard but I couldn’t stop it. Completing the job, I finally realized how much I was exhausted.

Nowadays many farmers use machines to plow, transplant and harvest etc., but that day Mr.Tobe who grows some of the most delicious and expensive rice without depending on these machines came to show us how he plants and grows rice. Originally, he started to grow rice in order to provide his children with safe and decent food but this ended up in him producing some of the most delicious rice in Japan. I hate to mention the price but the rice costs 3,000 JPY per one kilo! You can buy it at a department store in Tokyo.

He uses the rake he made by himself to mark where to plant. He did his job very accurately, efficiently and smoothly. When we plant seedlings, we put only one or two so that each seedling has enough space to grow and eventually we can harvest bigger grains of rice. Now each seedling looks a little helpless but soon they grow thicker and bigger. Mr.Tobe emphasized that growing rice isn’t difficult. He doesn’t use any machines but he can make more than enough rice for his family. 

 My image of farmers’ lives is very hard but he said that his family and he work from 5AM to 7AM in the morning and one or two hours in the late afternoon. That’s it. It seems like that before he gets started, he plans things very carefully and think how to save energy. Once he gets started, he works very fast. Sometimes his family members compete with each other in speed. It sounds like fun.

Many people in our group are worried about the food shortage and aging farmers in Japan. According to Mr.Tobe, the energy problem is more serious than food problem. I’m going to visit his place in Niigata in August to learn more about his policy and life style.