One of Japan’s 100 most beautiful rice paddies, Ini-no Tanada is a wonderful place to participate in the timeless tradition of the rice harvest.
The kids and I woke up early this morning for an adventure on our own. In July we visited Ini-no Tanada, some beautiful terraced rice paddies in Hiroshima, and we met Kono-san, one of the older farmers and head of the co-op. He invited our family to come back in September for the rice harvest. Today was the day!
Besides the local family and friends that were helping out, there was one other family there. It was important to Kono-San that we first meet everyone we’d be working with; we exchanged names and headed down to the rice paddies.
I have always admired how hard the Japanese work – especially the rice farmers. Being able to work side by side with them was an honor, and I’m so glad the kids got to do it too. With this opportunity, I have an increased respect for how hard they work. It’s a grueling, back-breaking way to spend a day!
Royce knew we were there to work and he was excited to work hard. The kids have been obsessed with rice paddies ever since we came in July, and they were both excited for the rice harvest. They were hoping they would be able to eat it right away!
The first thing I noticed was that I wore the wrong shoes. Sure, I had high rain boots on, but they kept getting stuck in the mud. Luckily I wasn’t the only one getting stuck. However the people that looked like they had done a rice harvest before didn’t seem to have any problem. Either they figured out the trick to not get stuck, or they were wearing special boots!
Royce harvests rice (say that 10 times fast!)
He is adorable. As soon as we were told where to go he walked right out onto the rice paddy and quickly turned around because another little boy got stuck. We decided to work on the next paddy because it seemed like the ground was a bit firmer over there. He again walked with such confidence right out onto the paddy and promptly got stuck and fell over! Covered in mud, he looked at me with an alarmed face, thinking I would be upset that he got all dirty. I assured him it was just fine to get dirty and he got right back up!
I had Jeannie on my back at this time so I started to work reaping the rice while Royce was assisted by one of the women there. She handed him the Kama/sickle and helped him to cut bundle after bundle. After a while he got tired and we went back to the road for a snack. We were talking about both being muddy and Jeannie kept saying “I not muddy” very proud of the fact that she stayed clean (the entire time)!
Royce took turns working and playing with the other kids, catching frogs, playing in the water and making leaf boats. The local kids really did a great job playing with Royce and Jeannie!
Later Royce got to try out the combine harvester. The man pushing it invited Royce to help him and after a few minutes, he stepped out so Royce could push it by himself!
The combine harvester was making bundles and shooting them out the side. We would stand near by and pick them up and put them to the side after it passed. Royce would run to pick up a bundle (they were practically the same size as him!) and carry it to the side, then run and get the next one. He did this over and over again. And this proud mama just beamed the whole time!
A special feeling
I don’t speak any Japanese, but there was a feeling there as we all worked together that felt special and unifying. Some of the women and children offered to watch the kids while I helped. When I would get stuck in the mud they were quick to help me up and laugh with me. We formed assembly lines so we could pass the bundles of rice to be hung up quicker as it had started to rain. They helped Royce push the combine harvester and helped him use the kama or sickle to reap the rice.
Besides a feeling of unity, there was the feeling of family. I’m not sure how many of the people were actually related to Kono-San – it could have been everyone for all I know – but after we finished, Kono-San invited everyone into his home for lunch. Everyone brought their food to the table and we all shared. I almost believed I was a part of this family.
The rice harvest was an incredible experience. It is something that we are looking forward to doing for the next couple of years that we are here. We are looking forward to helping plant the rice next May!
Plan your trip:
Drive up to Ini-no Tanada and check our their terraced rice paddies – they are beautiful! Have a quick lunch or coffee at the Ini Tanada Cafe.