Friday, October 23, 2009

School rice harvesting

Yesterday was one of those 'this is why I'm in Japan' moments. I was told the week before that my routine visit to one of my Junior Highs wouldn't be quite so routine this week as the school would be out rice harvesting for the day. My instructions were to bring long sleeves, appropriate shoes and a towel (I of course added a camera to the list). I was told when I arrived at school with a big grin on my face that I would be the only one excited about standing outside all day cutting rice by hand as the kids have been doing it all their lives... needless to say the novelty has worn off for them. But for me it was probably the highlight of being here thus far. Before we could actually get started there of course had to be an opening ceremony in which we pretty much just bowed non-stop for 15 minutes and then we were each given a newly-sharpened sickle. Having no idea what is was I was actually supposed to do with this blade I just attached myself to a couple of the students and followed them into position around one side of the field. A whistle was then blown and everyone set to work cutting the bundles of rice and then laying them flat on the ground. It took me a few attempts to get the hang of the angle on which to cut but once I got it I was away laughing and would race the kids around me to see who could cut 10 bunches the fastest.... I was of course nowhere near as fast as them but then they have been doing this all their lives! Once all the rice in the field had been cut a machine which the stalks are then fed into arrived and we spent the next few hours gathering up bundles and lining up to feed it through the machine which spits the stalks out one end and the rice out the other into big bags. After 4 hours hard work, a lot of fun and over 100 photos we had successfully harvested 10 bags of rice! Despite my sore back I was still smiling!