There have been a number of opportunities to volunteer at a farm on the west side of the prefecture. I’ve been wanting to give it a whirl but the days always conflicted with other previously scheduled events. Finally though, one of the dates worked out and I joined a few comrades at a chrysanthemum farm to help with whatever odd jobs they had for us. One of last year’s new recruits named Ryo works over that way and has organize a number of these events for us. This event was a little bit special though since we followed up our laboring in the field with a fantastic BBQ party.
After some directional trouble, I finally made it over to the sprawling farmlands of Manno and met up with my friends. These chrysanthemums are grown collectively by a couple different families and the harvested flowers are commonly used for funerals and gravestone offerings. The harvesting takes place around August, so were we only there to help out with raising and installing the support nets that prevent the absurdly tall stems from toppling in the wind. They weren’t yet half their mature height, but the netting needs to be raised every week or so.
Here my new best friend Jack and I toiled endlessly while running through our sound effect repertoire.
For lunch we hopped in the back of a small truck and rode over to one of the houses for an amazing feast. We all struggled to consume such mass quantities of somen, tempura, fish and of course rice. We probably spent an hour enjoying the meal and chatting before it was time to return to the fields. We spent the remainder of the day doing much the same work, but also utilized a sort of pneumatic drill to drive stakes into the ground. I’d never seen a tool like it and it functioned amazing well, though this was pretty hard work. There were a lot of stakes, the device was heavy, and the sound it produced would almost certainly cause hearing loss if used at length. I powered through most of it though, as I wasn’t able to shirk the duty onto anyone else.
The lunch crew minus me. This was only about half of what all was set before us.
Once we finished slaving away it was back to the guy’s house to have a massive barbecue party. BBQ in Japan is nothing like America – no ribs or burgers to be had – but still amazing. Instead we have a number of different meats and veggies that we toss on continuously and just keep eating until we are sated. Even better than food though was the atmosphere. These folks and their families were all letting lose and as farmers didn’t really need to worry about it being Monday the next day. The conversation was genuine and talking about things like farming, ‘big magnum’, and our lives was all very interesting. During the 4 hours of wild boar, scallop, and raw liver consumption we were also invited to participate in an amazing looking festival held annually in the town. We still need to sort those details, but it looks to be similar to the Sakaide Fall Festival where I was lifting a massive shrine with the help of a team.
The grill master, buttering up some fresh scallops.
I had a really nice time and was definitely able to experience some new things in my time over there. I will look forward to increased involvement with this neck of the woods and hopefully that festival too. Stay tuned.