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.