Hisae’s Dream

Image courtesy: Sasaki Family

On the 28th August 2020 The Sasaki family in Kikugawa near Kiwanosato welcomed an addition member to their family. The delivery was arranged in a local midwife’s house and all family members gathered together to celebrate the moment. 

The baby’s mother, Hisae, was born and raised near Tokyo and later moved to central Tokyo for work. However, when she visited Kikugawa where her mother was originally from, she was very attracted to county life.

When Hisae got married and had her first child, she felt Tokyo was not really an ideal place to bring up her children as she wanted them to understand the importance of living with nature and how to self-support themselves. In parallel, she encountered a macrobiotic food concept that encourages consuming seasonal food grown locally – you are what you eat. She and her husband had been discussing the possibility of moving to the countryside for some time, and finally, they made it happen in 2018, after their third baby was born.

Her interest in healthy, tasty and safe food made her set up a vegetarian restaurant called Prassar (meaning circulation), where she serves creative and seasonal vegetarian meals. It is a challenge as vegetarianism is rare in Japan, especially in the Kikugawa area, but her ambition was not hindered by that. Promoting her restaurant as a good food hub, she utilises the fields to host a cooking school, for testing vegan junk food and for get togethers, mother care, developing organic school lunch and more.

Hisae thinks Kikugawa is an ideal place for her family to live, however, she wonders if local people appreciate the value of resources that they have. She feels there is not enough opportunity for expressing and exchanging skills between people in the community and would like to see more opportunities to engage through events – something she believes would enrich everybody’s life. She believes people should simply enjoy what they like to do and have a little bit of courage to try new ideas.

Mi and Wind

箕(mi, pronunciation as ‘me’ in English) is one of the tools used for extracting rice from its husk. In Japan, it was traditionally made from bamboo.

Bamboo is considered by many to be a magic tree, growing 80cm – 100cm a day while remaining hollow inside. It even once appeared as the birth spot of a space child to the planet in the legendary Japanese tale, Princess Kaguya.

On a windy day in harvest season, a farmer fills his Mi with the mix of rice and husk. A farmer lifts it up into the wind and sheaves it with a special twisting motion from a certain height. As the light husk is blown off by the wind, the heavy rice drops straight down. The technique later became more controlled when fans were developed in the early 20th century.

It was once common for farmers to make their own harvesting tools by hand, but there are now very few people remaining who can demonstrate these traditional techniques today.

During many of our Kiwanosato schools we have been lucky to learn some of these disappearing traditional techniques directly from experienced local people: bamboo weaving, Japanese style gardening, mud wall building and traditional preservation cooking.