experiential adventures learning about sustainability, balance and love.

Staying with the Niwa family!

I’m so behind on this blog scene now. This happened about 2 weeks ago! ahhh!

Before leaving Mori no ie I stayed with the Niwa family for 3 days. This began as a 1 day stay but the family and I were enjoying each other’s company so I stayed longer! I would have liked to stay even longer as Susumu-san and I were really starting to open up to each other. Susumu is the husband, Yasuko the wife, their daughter Kou, and sons You and Sou. They run a commercial organic farm (is that a contradiction?) Their business is selling organic produce. They grow 2 types of wheat, rice, daikon, carrots, lettuce, herbs, and tons of other vegetables. They have 4 big green houses outside of their house and various feilds near by. They live in a beautiful house which Susumu designed and helped build. I can only describe it as Euro-Japanese archetecture. It has the general shape of a Europen house, but it uses Huge exposed wooden beams that were salvaged from an old Japanese house. The styling inside is also a mix of Japanese and other influences.

Niwa noen!

The Niwa farm is not a wwoof host, so I feel pretty grateful to have had this experience… and I hope I made a good impression so that maybe one day the Niwas will join the wwoof network or some similar program of exchange. Mostly I worked with Susumu out in the fields. They do not use much permaculture here, though they do compost and don’t use any chemicals. Everything is planted in rows, and although they have tractors and other machines to make the work faster it was still very long and tedious at times. I was always enjoying myself though and I am really greatful to have the experience of working in this type of farm so that I can compare it to the other places I work. Susumu taught me a lot about biodynamic farming. They have an astrological farming chart which they use. It has info such as which days are good for seeding which type of vegetables, harvesting, fertilizing, etc. From my limited understanding farming this way takes advantage of the energies of the moon, sun, planets, stars. I think ancient cultures used similar systems but Rudolf Steiner is responsible for the rise in popularity of biodynamic farming in modern times. Rudolf Steiner is a name that keeps popping up over and over on my stay in Japan. He’s responsible for the Steiner/Waldorf education system used by some alternative schools. The daughter at my first host in Japan, Himorogian, went to such a school. I learned a little bit about these schools while I was there and it seems like a muuuuch better system than the ones used by public schools in America and Japan.

anyways. enough talking, I know what you’re here for. THE PHOTOS!:

Tillin' like a microbe villain.
-Tillin’ like a microbe villain.

Seeding with Kou-chan.
-Seeding Dikon raddish with Kou-chan.

Niwa family posing with my photos!
-Sharing my photos with the Niwa’s.

Dinner with the Niwa's.
-Dinner with the whole family! Special Kashimo sushi wrapped in leaves.

Ginja. Me and Kou-chan.
-Susumu took me to visit a “Ginja” which is a Shinto shrine. He explained to me one day that all villages (and cities) in Japan have a Ginja. People go to the Ginja to pray for the help of local spirits. This transforms any bad and haunting spirits into local protectors. The explanation was quite logical and simple. “Ohh of course… that makes sense… we should be building these in America!” With one small building you can turn the headless horseman into Casper.

Me and the master - Japanese geodesic dome.
-Susumu took me to visit his friend who built a geodesic dome house by himself! The interior isn’t finished so there were lots of beautiful geometric beams showing. His friend happened to have a Shakuhachi and a pretty much freaked out in my anime way when I saw it: “OHHH SHAKUHACHI! WHOAAAA SUGOI!!!!! CAN I PLAY!!!! OHHHH ARIGATO GOZAIMASU!!! *bow bow bow bow*

20090512-IMG_3995-Japan
-Susumu also took me to visit the Kashimo dam. Dam in japanese is [damu.]

Kashimo when the sun hit the rain.
-After raining all night and morning the sun rose at noon and blasted the moisture from the mountains.

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