Last weekend we went on another study trip. This was our first experience with harvesting rice, and it was great! We stayed at a hotel overnight and took in some sights the next day, but I have about a bazillion photos so I will split this into two posts.
I also just got home from a day long festival at a local elementary school, so I need to get moving and get these posts up. Too many photos, so little time!
To begin the trip we were whisked away to a rice paddy that was among many of the terraced fields in the countryside. The view was stunning!
This is a photo of the rice fields before being harvested.
This was one of our wonderful hosts. Here he is giving us a demonstration on how to use the sickle to properly harvest the rice. Rice holds great importance in Japan so the technique to harvest it was quite specific. The way you hold the stalks and cut them specific. You are not supposed to saw the stalks but make a quick cut across the bases.
The stalks then had to be placed in piles. This was to prepare for putting them through the machine that would separate the grains from the stalks.
Here are some pro rice harvesters in action.
This rice in this paddy was planted in spring by the JTW class from last year. We will return here in June and plant new rice for next year’s students to harvest.
A close up of the top of the stalks. You can see the small rice grains still encased in the husk. They will be husked and cleaned elsewhere.
Yes, I really did harvest rice. Tash and I decided to get matching rice harvesting hats. Not only were we “super fashionable” but it was quite handy for the blaring sun.
Below, our field almost completely harvested. I was asked by one of the farmers to walk around and pick up every single stray stalk. No rice is to be wasted. It took a while, but we finally had every one!
This young fellow was out playing near our field.
His partner in crime, inspecting his catch.
This little guy was found wandering around the rice paddy. We came across quite a few squiggly things while down there.
Joel waiting to place his rice bundle into the separating machine. He was a great rice harvester!
The bags of separated rice grains we collected. We harvested quite a lot!
The completely finished paddy. Looks great! The machine to the right was what separated the grains from stalks.
After our hard work the farmers treated us to an unbelievable meal. Beginning with a toast!
We ate some of the most delicious meats and veggies, all grilled by our group. Well, mostly by Maylene (in the ASU sweater), the super grill expert. It was amazing!!! Definitely the best (and biggest) meal I have had since coming to Japan!
After the meat came the yakisoba. They fried the noodles right over the barbecue as well.
I thought you might enjoy a shot of the neat footwear the farmers wore. I wish we got to try them out! Might have made walking around in the mud a bit easier.
Another friendly creature we came across. Yikes!
Stomachs full and bodies tired, our next stop on the trip was a ceramics park. The architecture here was really interesting. For a few hours I really didn’t feel like I was in Japan. It was also eerily empty…so somewhat strange to wander around.
This building was beautiful!
We then got to make some handmade pottery of our own! Apparently it will arrive glazed and fired in about three weeks time. Let’s hope it turned out well. Mine is the ugly one on the far right. Yeah, not pretty. Tash definitely won the prize for best pottery with her curvy bowl!
Wandering around the deserted park…
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this little guy. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, has a cute face in Japan. Everything.
After crafting some pottery we were then taken to our hotel. It was a traditional Japanese style hotel. This is my room, shared with another student. While out for dinner this table was moved by the staff and two futon beds were placed on the tatami floors. I’m such a wimp and have a hard time sleeping on them, but it was a great time nonetheless!
We actually didn’t have these toilet slippers, they were in a different room, but too cute so I had to steal a photo. The kitty in the middle is my favourite.
I also had to show you the tiniest and cutest TV remote in the entire universe. Behold its cuteness!
We then had dinner in the main dining area. Another amazing meal!
Unfortunately I took this photo before the rest of the dishes came out. The space is missing a big bowl of veggie and shrimp tempura and a bowl of rice. This meal was fantastic!
We cooked the meat and veggies over this. So yummy!
This was probably the most interesting part. I admit I did not try the fish eggs, but I sampled the purple cube. It tasted sort of like sweet potato! I honestly have no clue what it was, if anyone knows please let me know.
Finally, it was time to relax…with another onsen (hot spring)! I was able to sneak a photo of the inside onsen and shower area, but there was also an onsen outside through the sliding doors. The outside onsen was really lovely, and all stone, but holy cow it was hot!
And these are the nice yukatas we were given to wear around. Traditionally yukatas were also worn to sleep, but lazing around before and after onsen in these was most popular!
Of course I had to end with me in pj’s, how could I resist.
This trip will continue in another blog post but I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many more photos at once! I will try my best to catch up this week, but the school workload has jumped up with the start of Japanese classes so my free time is usually spent passing out in bed.
Hope everyone is doing well at home, and keep in touch!