Sunday, 13 May 2012

Rice planting season.

We went to visit oldest uncle who lives about 30 mins away - or a bit more if the roads have lost their familiarity... He's 80 I think  and still a very active rice farmer.  The "wakamono" or young guy  who works for him would be 70, not old, but wakamono conjures up images of 20 year olds with  dyed yellow hair and hip hop jeans... Farming is a rapidly aging profession - a third of Japan's farmers are over seventy, two thirds are over 60.

Akita is about a month behind Tokyo in terms of temperature at this time of year. The cherry blossoms were out in the mountains, the rice seedlings will be planted soon.  There was no need for jackets getting back to Tokyo.
Oldest uncle's rice seedlings

Rice seedlings close up
Daffodil and tulips looking a bit worse for wear with the rain,
and not helped 
Green onions
Back to Tokyo & it always feels much warmer  - it was about 8 degrees warmer
in Tokyo - local azaleas on the way from the train station to home.
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Rurousha said...

The wakamono is 70? Great. That makes me an aka-chan. :D

I often wonder what will happen to Japan's rice farms when these old-timers finally move to the great rice paddy in the sky. I know it's hard work and we can't stop progress, but it would be heart-breaking (as opposed to back-breaking) if rice farming became a soulless corporate business. :(

Cecilia said...

Oldest uncle speaks very very thick dialect in a land where Dou sa = doko ni ikimasuka.

They were saying (I think) that the water taxes are very high - paid for maintenance of the irrigation canals - is very expensive and whether or not they farm, they have to pay it. It seems like there is a reasonable subsection of Japanese farmers who are prisoners to farming.
It's like the government has been waiting for the past 30 years for the farmers to die off before trying to implement an alternative strategy.
I'm not a fan of the TPP... in part for the agriculture, though I think losing the agriculture sector would be a huge problem, also though because of the influx of private medical that would inevitably flood in. I haven't watched the news for a long time, but I am not sure how much sensible discussion is being held about it...