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Rice, rice, rice-all for sake

In June, on the way to the filedharvesting-here we go

In Tokyo you feel the changes in the seasons: endless rain becomes a sauna-like unbearably hot and humid day, then long awaited fall an with evening breeze. In Tamura-cho, Fukushima, home for our favorite sake Odayaka, you see the seasonal changes as wet green rice fields covered with newly planted sprouts transform to golden waves of rice hanging down waiting to be harvested.

On September 15th, three months after I dragged my feet through the muddy rice paddies to pull weeds, I returned to the Kinpou Shuzou’s field for harvesting along with 60 other people, most of whom looked familiar by now. Since I learned and experienced some of the actual sake making process at Kinpou Shuzou last March, I felt compelled to see and feel a part of what it takes to grow rice, especially in the way they combine old, pre-mechanical farming techniques and organic methods.

Kinpou uses organic rice for their sake and in this process bugs are naturally equally important as the rice itself. In June, we were greeted by tadpoles and kabuto ebi (freshwater tadpole shrimp) that take care of the weeds. Last week, we upset the colony of spiders and grass hoppers as the troops moved forward bundling up the stalks to dry.

As you can imagine, both weeding and harvesting are hard work. Weeding was hard, because my back was bent forward the whole time to pull weeds and rake the mud around the newly trans planted sprouts, then at the end of the day, I saw very little change. Harvesting, although equally physically hard with the back bent the whole time to cut the stems, make bundles, and tie them together, was more satisfying to see what’s accomplished. These two days with all manual labor I experienced are the real old ways and you do not often see this kind of work any more. Those days in the field reminded me of the big mantra we were taught way back when: “Don’t waste even one little grain, eat them all”.

While I was too weak to grab anything with my left hand for the whole day the next day, I was thinking about the sake I am going to taste next March. It’s going to be good.


June 2007

harvesting-the troop

September 2007

harvesting-when it is all done

March 2008?

Pictures from June 2007.

See us in action from harvesting.


3 Responses to “Rice, rice, rice-all for sake”

  1. You guys really put in a full day! I’m sorry I missed this, but, in truth, hard work isn’t really my forte. However, I, too, am looking forward to the sake in March. Hopefully, JP and I will be able to stay overnight this time.

    Thanks so much for the Chiyomusubi! It was terrific, a lot fruitier than the other stuff I’ve tried by them; we finished it last night. 🙂

    Posted by melinda | October 12, 2007, 5:51 pm
  2. Melinda, I hope you and JP can make it to the sake making part.

    We finished your soup right away and it was great!

    Posted by Et-chan | October 16, 2007, 7:49 pm


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