Sunday, May 9, 2010

From the Rice Fields, to the Mountains, to the Sea

I was going to an AFS meeting with my LP and as we were driving by the country, I pointed out the rice fields, and how cool it would be to see how people planted the rice. And then, before I realized it, I found myself suddenly in them. Rice planting, in Japanese, is called 田植え/たうえ/ taue.

Before I got there, I had a lot of questions. What time would we start planting rice? What should we wear? Should we wear boots? How would we know where to plant the rice?
All of these questions were soon answered. We started planting in the morning (but not too early, otherwise the water in the field would have been freezing!!).

As you can see in the picture, I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt so I wouldn`t get burnt. (Apparently most Japanese people usually don`t wear sunscreen, which isn`t good for a fair skinned redhead).

And we went in the field bare foot (much to one of my friends complaints). There`s a thin layer of water (it varies depending on where you are in the rice field) sometimes 2-4 inches. But the mud is soft and no one was hurt by rocks.

In the picture, before planting, my friends and I are pushing a wooden crate across the field. The crate, using a pattern on it, marks the places of where we would plant the rice.

After this, we were given a clump of a grass like plant. (Each of our clumps was probably about 4 inches by 4 inches). They called these clumps nae. Which, I guess, is a rice shoot. From the clump, we would take two or three of these rice shoots and plant them where the four corners of the pattern on the crate had marked in the mud. Whenever we ran out of a clump, a person from the side of the rice field would throw us another one (Luckily, everyone caught them).

Unfortunately, the crate pattern was hard to see when everyone was stepping in the mud. The water became so clouded, that sometimes we couldn`t see where to plant the rice. Needless to say, our rows ended up crooked.

After planting (and after our backs were sore) we went back and washed our feet in a small stream (that had also supplied the water for the rice field). After eating lunch, our work was done.

Although unable to climb Mt. Fuji (yet ;) )I had the opportunity to go with some AFS staff to hike Yahikoyama in Niigata. The hike was rather easy and the views were amazing :)

And also during Golden Week, after a long drive to visit some friends of my parents, we briefly went to the ocean (YAY!!!).

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