Inaka Life: New, Unmanned Bakery

It's fairly common to find local, honor system stores here in the inaka. These usually take the form of a little table or stall set up on the side of the road by a farmer's field selling extra veggies, flowers, nuts, etc. There's usually a sign that tells you how much each item costs, and... Continue Reading →

Inaka Life: Sweet Potato Planting

Both of my schools are in rural environments, so part of the curriculum includes some farming and community involvement. Every year, the 5th graders go out to the nearby farms and help plant rice. We also have a school garden and field that students cycle crops through during the year. But by far the largest... Continue Reading →

Inaka Life: Daffodils

My town, Higashiagatsuma-machi, is one of the biggest producers of wild daffodils (ラッパ水仙) in Japan. The daffodils are such a big deal to this town, that our mascot is even a daffodil. He's a daffodil fairy creatively named Suisen-chan (his name is literally daffodil c'mon guys). He's adorable and I love him. Anyway, many farmers... Continue Reading →

Making Umeshu and Ume Syrup

Mid to late June in the inaka is plum time. Not because the plums are all lovely and ripe and sweet, but because they're hard, green and bitter. The unripe plums are harvested to make homemade umeshu (plum liqueur). The local grocery store had a display as soon as you walked in of the liquor,... Continue Reading →

Inaka Life: Harvest Time

Earlier this year, my schools sent the students out to the school garden to plant sweet potato sprouts. This week, we're starting to harvest them. The kindergarten had a tiny little plot, and we pulled up 153 potatoes this week. They had so many that they gave me a huge bag to take home with... Continue Reading →

How to Make Udon

Last weekend, I had the fantastic experience of going out to a little farmhouse and learning how to hand-make udon. Here's the whole process, from flour in a bowl to noodles in my tummy. Step 1: Flour, water, salt We began with 100g of "medium strength" flour. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but... Continue Reading →

Romance in a Cabbage Field

Japan is a country of repressed emotion. It's one of those stereotypes that are actually accurate. Younger generations are working to change this by doing crazy things like hugging their partners and actually telling them that they love them, but there are some events to help older people express their feelings too. One of these... Continue Reading →

Inaka Life: Tsuyu

Tsuyu (梅雨) is Japan's rainy season. It usually hits around June-early July. Some people are miserable when the rain comes around, the swinging barometric pressure causes headaches and you're pretty much guaranteed to be damp all day. And the humidity is off the charts. On the other hand, I love it. I love the rain... Continue Reading →

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