As noted in my moblog, I went rice planting in Tsukuba Sunday. It was damn hard work, and maybe that's why it felt so good. I hadn't been outside of Tokyo since last December and the countryside was beautiful. Big mountains beneath a cloudy sky framed our tiny figures toiling in muddy fields.
This is how rice planting works. First you have the big muddy field. Wait, back up one step, I think there's an elaborate irrigation system that creates this muddy field. Now step back forward again because I don't know crap about irrigation. There's a muddy field that just magically exists. This is the tanbo. It is a wide rectangle, not a square. Next you have huge rolls of paper. You unroll the paper onto the big muddy rectangle. The paper stretches the entire length of the field, about fifteen rolls fill a field. This paper provides the rice seedlings support to grow out of and keeps them from being blown away by the wind. As you are unrolling the paper you poke five holes and jam the rice seedlings down inside the holes. These holes are perfectly spaced fifteen centimeters apart from another, unless I'm the one doing it in which case there is no consistency or discernable order. Finally, the most important step is apparently to get your nice clothes extremely muddy and almost fall face flat in the mud five times. I was particularly careful to follow this rule.
To do one row with two people takes about an hour and a half. One field yields 600 kilograms of rice. It would take one person working at maximum efficiency five and a half work days to make 600KG of rice. Luckily there was about twenty of us, albeit nowhere near efficient, planting so it took up the space of six or seven hours. It was mostly families, and a couple little kids running around with no pants on. I also got to hang out with my favorite teacher at Waseda and met some other smart people. It was a really cool experience to be on the positive side of the consumption circle. Too bad I can't be around for the harvest in September.Discuss