The day after I returned from Happocho, I was sent to a farmer's inn by the name of Kaikon no Sato.  This experience was very eye opening!  We got to visit an Arts & Crafts Center, see all sorts of beautiful scenery, and do some harvesting.  It was very beautiful, and it was a blast to the past in Japanese traditions.
So the first place we went to was an abandoned elementary school that was changed into a Arts & Crafts Center.  Visitors could go to this place and learn how to make things out of straw.  As we toured the place, I saw all sorts of creations!  I saw straw slippers, beautifully designed snakes, baskets, hats, and even aprons!  It was great to see that the school had been turned into something beneficial to the community.
On a side note, it was quite sad to walk through the school knowing that there were no kids.  It shows how different rural areas are from the cities.  There aren't enough kids in the towns to even hold a class.  My roommate once showed me a video of a school that he went to where there the 6th grade had only two kids.  The whole school itself had less than 20 children. 

It's so little, you start to wonder where all the kids go.  Regardless of it all, I'm glad they are using these schools for other purposes to help the community. 

One thing that I found really interesting was the way they twine straw.  It was very similar to the way Hawaiians twine ti leaf.  The technique was very different but the result was pretty much the same.  They twined their straw in the style a boy scout would do to make fire.  Or maybe the style of a man rubbing his hands together when he's thinking about money. It was very interesting and a great exchange of different cultures. 
As we were leaving the school, they stopped me and asked me to take a pair of straw slippers as a gift.  All the straw slippers were so beautiful, it was hard to choose.  Not only that, but there were none in my size, so I just decided to take the prettiest pair to use as decoration in my house.
After we left the elementary school, we went to a duck and rice farm.  It was interesting as I would have never thought there would be a duck farm in Japan.  They treated us to three different types of rice, and fed us some delicious eggs and soup.  They even asked us to grade the rice and see which one tasted better, smelt better, felt better, and shined more in the light.  I gotta say that that was one of the hardest things to do.  It was really hard to differentiate one rice from the other.  They all tasted the same, smelt the same, felt the same, and shined just as bright in the light as the next.  With that being said, I chose the rice that had the most in its bowl.
Right after the duck farm, we went on a bus and toured through the mountains of the rural area until we reached our designated destination. My group was in charge of interviewing a farmer's inn by the name of Kaikon no Sato, a place deep in the rural area of Yokote prefecture.  The place scenery was beautiful!
As soon as we arrived at Kaikon no Sato, we were sent to the fields to harvest soybeans... I think.  Or at least, they seemed to be soybeans.  With a hat, a pair of boots, and a pair of gloves, I was instantly transformed into "Farmer Keli'i," the man who was destined to farm those beans.  With the whole getup, I felt quite stylish while farming those beans.
Our team did real good!  We farmed those beans in no time and learned how to tie them up with ease.  I found it quite fun to be a farmer for a day.  I'm sure they all did as well.  Now that I think about it, I think that was actually my first time doing any farming... in my life. 
After a short session of working, we were invited into the house to have a nice small meal.  To my horror, everything was vegetables.  Vegetables to the right, and vegetables to the left.  After a nice long minute of contemplating my eating strategy, I dug in and to my surprise, those vegetables were freakin' delicious.  It was so delicious that I kept on eating and eating.  For once, I actually felt like the healthiest man on earth.
To top it all off, the desert was magnificent!  It was very simple, but it was very delicious.  Placed into a beautiful flower shaped bowl, I could not resist myself from eating it.  It was so good, I think I ate 6 bowls of that dessert.  Of course, I thanked them for every spoonful I ate.
After an hour or so of eating, the room was filled with students.  It was so lively in the house, the atmosphere gave off a family sort of feel.  I liked the atmosphere.  It reminded of my childhood days when my family and I would go to Waianae.
My overall experience that day was fun!  I learned a lot about the rural areas of Yokote prefecture, got some farming experience, and found some vegetables that were equivalently delicious to meat  They said that the next time we go there, we'll have the opportunity to kill, clean, and cook a chicken.  To me, that sounds like a fantastic experience!  Can't wait til the next time!

The following are the new sections created in the scrapbook:
11/11/2012 06:54:12 am

It's like being in a Lo'i for a day! Can you imagine our tutu's lived like that where they farmed and ate everything they grew..I'm so glad you are able to see that side of Japan...Good memories!


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