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A Farming Experience in Isumi

Thanks to the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line, Isumi is easily accessible by both car and bus to people living in Japan’s two most populous cities, Tokyo and Yokohama. This proximity, combined with Isumi’s abundance of farmland, make it an attractive destination for those wishing to have a taste of an agrarian lifestyle. Nōgyō taiken (farming experiences) are run by a number of organizations in the area, as well as by private individuals, and give members of the public a chance to try out a little of the work farmers engage in throughout the year. With the weather now warming, the rice-growing season has begun; and eager to have a go at tanemaki (seed-scattering) myself, last week I took part in an event run at Tsurukame (crane and tortoise*1) Farm.

The day began at 9:15am with my and my family’s arrival at the farm, where we were met by owners Tsuru and Shūko-san. The two of them have been running a farm share program for a number of years catering to both locals (some of whom participate annually) and those arriving from further afield. The first order of business, once everyone had arrived, was a lecture given by Tsuru-san on the process of sorting and germinating rice grains prior to sowing them.

Listening to Tsuru-san's lecture with sorted rice in the foreground.

Listening to Tsuru-san’s lecture with sorted rice in the foreground

It was fascinating to learn how saltwater treatment is used in selecting which seeds to use. Tsuru-san demonstrated how unripe grains or those that have been damaged tend to float in certain densities of saltwater, thus providing a useful means of seperating them from those that will produce a good crop. Heating can then be used to start the germination process, leaving the farmer with grains that can be scattered and grown into healthy seedlings. Having prepared a batch ready for us, Tsuru-san then led us to one of his barns where we were able to take part in the filling of the seed trays ourselves.

Much experience has led to the formulation of a tried and tested method for producing the best seedlings. The depth of soil the seeds are sown into is important, as well as the number scattered in each tray. Too many means there is a danger they will be overcrowded and unable to thrive, where as too few risks them growing too sparsely, which makes them prone to falling without the support of their neighbors. For that reason, once we had laid a good bed of soil in each tray, we all tried our best to scatter our pre-weighed seeds as evenly as possible. I found it surprisingly difficult!

Tsuru-san showing us how it's done

Tsuru-san showing us how it’s done

Once that is done more soil delicately scattered over the grains and levelled off. Each tray will then be laid out for an even watering and over the next 40 days the plants will sprout and grow into healthy seedlings ready to be transferred outside to waiting rice fields.

Following the morning’s work, we all then returned to the comfort of Tsuru and Shūko-san’s home and ate a delicious meal consisting of organic dishes prepared with Tsurukame Farm’s rice and miso, as well as additional items each participating group had brought with them. Both relaxing and delicious, the meal provided an excellent opportunity for us all to get to know each other and question our hosts a little further about their farming methods and objectives. Nōgyō taiken a great means of educating yourself on how food is produced, trying your hand at a little satisfying work, and meeting new and interesting people.

Tucking into some delicious, organically-grown food

Tucking into some delicious, organically-grown food

*1 The crane and the tortoise are symbols of longevity in Japan.


Chimachi Market, December 11th 2016

Unlike some parts of Japan where winter brings with it snowfall in December, Isumi enjoys a relatively mild climate in which one can enjoy warm days of bright sunshine even in the run up to Christmas.
As if to prove this point, at the monthly Chimachi Market held by Isumi Lifestyle Lab on December 11th, a slightly overdressed Santa could be found making brilliant bubbles in a bright green field.
With the help of many eager children, Santa created a scene that was both merry and bright.


Held on the second Sunday of every month, Chimachi Market provides an opportunity for families to gather and enjoy stalls run by locals selling their foods and their wares.
The venue, a former kindergarten, provides both a child friendly environment for the kids and a nostalgic setting for the adults. One that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Another special event to mark the approach of Christmas (that is, in addition to the bubble-blowing Santa Claus) was a flute and piano recital of well-known Christmas songs. Thanks to the talents of the musicians, all assembled were able to enjoy the music and some even sang along.
Towards the end of the performance children were also given the chance to participate, with some very enthusiastic bell ringing on their part really adding to the Christmas cheer.



Isumi tour with students from Department of Design Informatics, Musashino Art University

We started the Isumi-oriented Boso Lifestyle Project last year.
This is a collaboration project with industry, government and academia, and Musashino Art University and Isumi city play a key role.
The project was restarted for this year.

Senior students of Inoguchi seminar of the Department of Design Informatics visited Isumi city with Professor Inoguchi and assistant Ms. Masuda to plan what we do for the project this year.

Staff of Isumi Lifestyle Laboratory and the city officials of Isumi (Mr. Ogata and Mr. Kumabe, Relocation and Entrepreneur Support Group, Fishery, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Division) showed them around proposed sites for the project.

The places we looked around are also recommended tourist sites of Isumi.
Why don’t you visit them?

Minato-no-asaichi (Morning Fish Market)
We met at Ohara station and visited Minato-no-asaichi (Morning Fish Market), where we met Mr. Shoji, Manager of Fishery, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Division, who was helping the market event.

Everyone was enjoying food and shopping.

The concert of brass band club of Ohara high school was also held at the site.
This market is held every Sunday at Ohara fishing port and visited by the many customers from the urban area.

Ohara Hachiman-jinja (shrine)
After the market, we went to Hachiman-jinja (Shrine).
It was known as a location where TV drama “Summer Nude” (Fuji Television Network) was filmed.

Goheiyama-nouen (farm), Yamada
Goheiyama-nouen (farm) is located in the inland Yamada area, west of Ohara.
They grow blueberries and figs during this season, so we did blueberry picking.

They also challenge “solar sharing,” solar power generation project for the agricultural farm. They installed solar panels above the blueberry field, and while adjusting the shaded area, they grow blueberries and sell electric power.

They also have a cottage for tourists. Why don’t you stay there when you visit Isumi?

Kuniyoshi Station, Isumi Railway
Then we moved to Kuniyoshi station of Isumi Railway.

What is special here is an open field behind the station.

This place was also used for the filming of NHK drama “Nanohana Line ni Norikaete” .

Luckily, a train came. As they seldom see a local train, everybody was taking photos of the train.

Takahide Dairy Farm
Next, we visited Takahide Dairy Farm, where they practice sustainable dairy farming and are also known for its cheese factory.
The farm is used for filming commercials sometimes instead of Hokkaido to save costs.
Mr. Kenji Takahashi, the owner, explained about the farm.

Then we took a rest at a gelato shop in the farm that opened recently.
As it was a hot day, everybody enjoyed the break time with gelato.

Hoshizora no ie & Chiisana toshokan (small library)
Next, we visited a shared house “Hoshizora no ie” and “Chiisana toshokan (small library,)” where an old Japanese style house and a barn in the property were renovated, respectively.
We could not have entered the shared house for the privacy of the residents, but could see the library.

Ms. Chie Mitsuhoshi, a former staff of Isumi lifestyle laboratory, who manages the shared house and library explained to us about the place.

*Please be noted that you cannot enter the shared house except for the time of events. You can visit the library during operating hours.
Former Chimachi Nursery School
We then moved to Former Chimachi Nursery School near “Hoshizora no ie”
Some of you may already know that this is the venue of Chimachi Market.
As we had little time, we only walked around the yard.

Brown’s Field & Jijinoie
Next, we visited Brown’s Field, where Ms. Deko Nakajima, a cooking expert of macrobiotics and her husband Mr. Everett Brown run.

They make use of an old Japanese style house to create an Ecovillage like place. Many visitors come from Tokyo and overseas.
Ms. Deko was at the place luckily when we visited and we could have talked to her.

They are now renovating another old Japanese style house of the next-door. A couple of landscape gardener and sculptor from Ise-shima region were building bath, so we went to see them.

Then we walked to “Jijinoie” that located a few minute away from Brown’s Field. It was also are nicely renovated old Japanese style house.
This facility was again used for the filming of NHK drama “Nanohana Line ni Norikaete”.

*Please be noted that Brown’s Field and Jijinoie is personal properties. Please do not enter them without permission except for the café.
Taitosaki Todai (lighthouse)
Finally, we went to Taitosaki Todai (lighthouse).

Everyone was relaxing in front of the magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean.

いUsually we never visit so many places during the tour we organize.
It was a tight, tough schedule. Great job everyone!

Boso Lifestyle Project had just started. We are excited to see what will happen.

( Zackey/Yasuko )

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