It's June and that means rice planting season in Japan! To be honest, I'm never excited about doing this. After all, it's a lot of work. But luckily since my father in law is retired, we only plant rice every two years. Normally the whole family gets together to help out, and since we have three rice fields to cultivate, we need all the help we can get!(See Video at the bottom)
Being retired my father in law can care less about everyones schedule. So he kind of just spontaneously says: " Hey today I'm going to plant the rice" (in Japanese of course).
This wouldn't be a big problem if he was younger (He's almost 80). Unfortunately, if no ones around to help him, he'll drag my mother in law along for the hell ride (She's 73, so she can't do much ). When they were younger, she would clean the trays of rice and help load the tractor, as he would drive the tractor, to plant the seedlings.
A long, long time ago, this job used to be done by hand. But now everyone in Japan, uses a special tractor, that plants the seedlings in the filed automatically. You just have to take the rice plants out of their boxes and load them into the machine.
My day started late at 2 pm, because I was called last minute to help out in the field.The kicker was, the whole family had planned to come to help the next weekend, and that was the original plan. The reason he upped the harvest, was because his friends(all rice farmers) were pressuring him. Their was talk about how one of neighbors had already finished. Making everyone change their schedules.
As a retired guy, my father in law gets antsy with his free time, and decided he would do it, ON HIS OWN. But later he realized he bit off more than he can chew. Luckily, I dropped what I was doing, and ran over to help out.
It was tough work. While he drove, I unloaded the truck and staged the boxes around the field. Every 15 minutes or so, I would switch out the rice trays, and load the new ones on to the tractor. The first time I did this (2 years ago) we had more than 6 people. This time it was just the two of us.
After a few runs, he decided to switch and I drove the tractor while he staged. Driving the tractor is not much easier, you still have to load the rice into the back end of the planting mechanism. Also, he figured ,a young guy like me, can pick up the trays and switch them out all by myself. This gave him time to start cleaning the empty trays.
Once we got into a groove, we started getting done quicker. One of my wife cousins showed up, and he was able to help with cleaning the trays as well. On the drive to one of the fields, some rice trays fell off the tractor. I was able to pick them up and load them into the truck.
The tractor doesn't go very fast (5mph/8kph), and that's a good thing , because it doesn't really have any brakes. One of the scariest things is driving the tractor into the rice field. I remember 2 years back my father in law rolled it, while trying to get it in to the rice field. I was pretty lucky that nothing like that happened to me this time around.
After a full day of planting rice, we finally finished just minutes before sunset. It was a bit dark, we were covered in mud, but the job was done. I'm hoping next year we will have a larger to team to help out. I know some of you are reading this and thinking: "that's so cool, I wish I can plant rice in Japan". To you, I say, please contact me! We need your help! (See video at the bottom)