There is something even more sad than not being able to grow my own rice this year – even more sad than the fact that I will still be called on to mow down the weeds in and around the field (which is almost as much work as, or more, than growing rice, as we found a few years ago when we left just one plot fallow.)
A group of University students who had come out last year to help plant the rice and spend a week learning about food will not be returning this year. Its not because we have no rice fields to plant for them, and we got good reviews from them last year, even were in discussions to bring other departments over to study other aspects of Japan than just food.
Aside from learning about and planting rice, gathering and preparing wild veggies, making mochi, making soba, miso tasting, making natto, followed up by an Iron Chef style competition where the students broke into groups which planned their own recipies visited the supermarket to try to find all the needed ingredients, and spent a day cooking to be judged by the local experts.
Their food was so good that I felt bad for the inn-keeper who might have been feeling inferior.
Anyway, for whatever reason they are not returning this year, so I really gotta find some rice fields to plant.
That is not to say that spring is not near. Most of the snow is melted, and there are enough flowers coming up now that Mona and i can go for little scavenger-hunt walks and find things other than “Something white”.
Below are some shitake mushroom logs. The little white spots are spore plugs pounded into holes drilled into the tree. Placed in a cool damp dark place, these will soon start to sprout some nice shitake.
Mona and friends challenge the mini everest at our local ski hill.
The photos from this year’s little new year celebration probably look the same as those from previous years, but its hard not to get the camera out.
This is an annual festival carried out be each hamlet. For a little more explanation, see my post from 2008. Although the date is always slightly different, I consider this Mona’s birthday celebration, because her birth date coincided with little new year in 2010.
For the past few years we have been back in America and missed this festival, but this year hung around so it validates my taking more photos.
This is about the extent that we celebrated Halloween and Christmas. Actually, Halloween was a much bigger to-do this year as we took a trip out to Heather’s house in Matsumoto for a party with her children, and some trick-or-treating that she had arranged with her neighbors who have absolutely no clue why they are giving the kids the candy that Heather had just given them.
Our Christmas tree this year. Pure to tradition, Mona and I hiked into the forest and she chose this one herself. (Hopefully it is obvious that she decorated it herself as well)
The trip to the beach was followed up by an early autumn hike/camp in Kamikochi with the Facebool Japan Hiking Group.
One of the highlights of Mona’s year is getting out there to camp and make smores and play with her twin Monika
Back in the beginning of July 2013, a magazine photographer came out to do an article about Tomoe’s amazing bread. Unfortunately, per Tomoe’s orders, the bread project has gone to the wayside, and Tomoe has given the decree that we are to make no rice this year, helping her with the bread took up a good portion of my time, and the loss of my favorite summer hobby means I have more time to update the blog this year.
Unfortunately, it also means there will be no work for random passer-bys such as this guy I met riding his bike around Japan. He took me up on my offer to stay here for a day or two and help pull weeds in the field.
This is backdated to June, when Mona was still in the Tulip class. Now she is one class higher, and almost ready to graduate from pre-school.