Last Summer I visited for the first time an area with rice paddy fields in Chiba. I loved the experience. It was not only the place, but the friends I made there that made me return more times to breath the fresh air of the Japanese countryside.
After a while, I was offered to be a member of an association of rice paddy owners. My first reaction was to reject the offer, it seemed like it was just another thing to worry about in my life. But after some days of thinking about it I remembered one of the wisest advice my friend Zordor has given me:
“In life you should invest in stories”
This thing about the rice paddy fields sounded like a great opportunity to “invest in stories”, so I eventually accepted the offer. During some months it was a hassle to read and sign contracts, to do transfers to the bank of the association, to read the rules of how to maintain the rice fields, to speak with other members on the phone… It was like dealing with one of those secret clubs that characters in Haruki Murakami novels bump into.
After investing so much time, finally the harvest of stories began last week. We put together a group of more than twenty friends and we learned how to sow rice. We lost the fear of sinking in the mud, we learned how to walk without falling into the water and we learned how to put our hand in the mud while you feel a frog walking up your arm. We learned how to plant rice sprouts by using only two fingers just as the farmers in Kurosawa movies do. On top of that we were even interviewed by a local radio in Chiba!
Sowing rice following the traditional way made me understand the importance of Japanese agriculture and its influence in the countryside culture. All the members of our group had to coordinate and work collectively so that the plants will grow aligned. It is very important for the community to work in unison and for everybody to collaborate in order to have a good harvest. Not only in you rice paddy field but also in the neighboring ones.
Thank you very much to all of you that came to help. In September we will collect more stories and we will harvest the rice in our field! 🙂