Field work. Market prep.
Field work. Market prep.
Cut some weeds. Package cucumbers.
Prune tomato vines. Wash & trim green onions.
Field work in the AM. Packaging in the PM.

This was my daily regiment near Fukuchiyama city in Kyoto prefecture. I landed in a village, cradled by mountains, where rice paddies outnumbered people by 10:1. There were roughly a dozen houses total, and I was living in the one furthest out at the end. A previously-abandoned-then-rebuilt home. I would be WWOOFing for this host for two weeks.

It was indescribably scenic. Rice paddies and fields ran to the horizon where they were overtaken by mountains. Japanese homes clustered in small packs, a product of Meiji-area institutions. I couldn’t stop taking photos during our drives to-and-from the farm. In response to this expected but cliche foreigner-only behavior, my host T-san asked why. In his words, this scene was typical. Coming from the drought-ridden hills of the bay area, I expressed more enthusiasm than was probably expected.

I originally arrived Saturday noon after getting lost in the Japan Rail system. I was treated to a quick bowl of ramen at a standalone, fast food-type shop after throwing my backpack into the back of his Mitsubishi pick-up truck (Trucks, worth noting, are a smaller breed in Japan than their American cousins: white 2-seaters with lower rails in the back and the back length a total 5 feet or less. A number of yellow and orange plastic meshed crates were thrown about. I didn’t know it at the time but the truck and these crates would be my family in the coming 2 weeks). Following a quick WWOOFing orientation and a tour of his house, we jumped into his fields.

The truck (disclosure: random internet photo)

There is where I’d spend nearly all my waking hours as my schedule normalized. From learning to weed by hand and with petro-powered machinery to trellising en masse and spreading mulch and straw, I’d be learning how to maintain tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, pima, and zucchini plants that were already producing product for market.

Farm shot

I’ve set off on this 6-week trip through Japan after dropping everything: my job, wedding planning, and more. It wasn’t expected to start off this way but I suppose these trips never are. At the same time, it’s not a complete surprise. A number of factors intersected at just the right place and just the right time and ultimately led me to this trip which I consider to be my last opportunity to commit a spontaneous act of abandonment. So I must give credit where it’s due: my fiance, family, and friends.

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