Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Rice Paddy

you have to dig trenches....

The first week of May is called Golden Week in Japan as it includes public holidays, which, depending on where the weekend(s) fall, can mean 5-10 days continuous break. In the countryside, you see many farmers planting rice seedlings at this time. Some younger people who work in cities return to their home town in the country during this time and assist in planting rice alongside neighbouring farmers. With the aid of sizeable machinery and with the extra hands, a large rice field can be planted within a few days.

In a Shizen-nou paddy, the rice planting season starts from now (end of June) until mid-July, depending on the type of rice for harvest. It’s a great achievement for Japanese farmers to breed particular types of rice which grow earlier than usual so that they can be planted in the golden week period, but it does beg the question as to who would modify crops to fit in the new calendar year.

The paddies of both sides of our land were completed a month in advance. Since we share the same water from the communal ponds, adjusting the water level is a significant task. We are dependent on the farm manager, who is very busy opening and closing water gates/sluices every day. He carefully monitors and controls water levels for earlier crops in neighbours’ paddies and our traditional paddy. I had not realised how sensitive and demanding rice can be in regard to the amount of water required. When planted, they are thirsty and need a massive amount of water – then a moderate drier period is necessarily. Balance and right timing of the hydration and dehydration cycle has a direct impact on the autumn harvest.

This season I am planning to plant a late blooming type of rice called Kodaimai (literary translated as ‘ancient rice’). The specific name is Manyo-midori (green rice) and Shikoku-en (black rice). They are now contentedly resting in a seed bed, ready to be transplanted in two weeks’ time.

Would anyone like to give me a hand on weekends?

making a seed bed in the paddy.








Nick said...

Hi Satoko,

Good looking blog and a nice combination of information and your personal history/philosophy. If you're looking for an extra hand on the weekend, I'd be interested. Haven't done much else besides weeding but I'm up for a new experience. :)

Sacchan said...

Hi Nick! Thanks for the offer. Let me know when you are back from sounds decadent academic conference is Perugia. I am sure there will be a plenty of work left for you!

Gary said...

Did any inquisitive pheasants come to watch the rice planting?