More Energy
Back to Blog

Mama! The rice harvesting machine looks like a Pokemon

Nov 22, 2023

Rice is grown on every patch of flat ground in Japan. That's why you don't see animals grazing outside, rice comes first. There are many large fields; I like the ones in the residential areas and backyards best.

The rice harvest is taking place now in November. Everywhere, small harvesters are turning over the sometimes tiny fields.

On a walk in Takatsuki from Grandpa Sakata's house to the river in 2017, one such harvesting machine stands ready for use on the street. Mika immediately shouts: "Look mom, it looks like a Pokémon! I want to get on it! Can you ask if I can get on? Oh, I really want to go for a ride!" Huge joy and excitement, which I carefully try to calm down as I know how reserved Japanese people are. I was wrong. This gentleman of a farmer promised Mika without hesitation that she would be allowed to ride with him from the second lap onwards.

A woman from the neighborhood can be seen very briefly in the video. She came running with chilled tangerine juice for us because she had seen from her house that a little girl was showing an interest in agricultural machinery.

Such beautiful encounters are possible with just a little Japanese. If you show an interest in normal life, you will be showered with warmth and you will bring a lot of joy.

In Kyushu on the southernmost main island, Mika experiences the next steps in rice processing. Aiko Obasan, Aunt Aiko, runs a farm with her family. She’s now 86 and still cultivates a large vegetable garden. The rice fields of the entire Sakata clan are cultivated by the siblings and cousins together.

The threshed, dried & still unhulled rice grains are stored at Aiko-san's farm in that silo you’ll see in the video. Anyone of the big family who needs supplies comes by and, with the help of the grandchildren, a few bags of rice are hulled. In the end Mika spreads the bag with hulls onto the field with aunt Aiko.

I made this video when I was writing biweekly blog posts for a big free online newspaper in Switzerland. I was allowed to advertise my free Japanese course which still leads to my paid Japanese course. It’s in Swiss German only (sooorry) and over 200 clients came back very happy from Japan because they could interact and build beautiful connections with locals for themselves. No I don’t speak perfect Japanese but as so many people asked me for a course because they said, I explain it so understandably… : ) … I developed this course which throws you directly into sentences without a lot of grammar so that you can speak and understand very quickly. So IF you are pondering learning Japanese I can promise you that it’s easier than German, French or Spanish…go for it, it’s sooo worth it! I wrote a book about traveling in Japan. If you want to have the unpublished English version for free, let me know, I’ll send it to you. It’s a bit outdated but still a valuable resource to have loads of fun AND knowing where you really have to be aware of Japanese customs.

Back to the rice:

In the end of the video you see the “rice-peeling-machine” for people who don’t have one at home. You pour your rice into the machine, tell it the hulling-degree, throw in the money and it does the work for you within 30 seconds. I was in awe of this service. So easy and practical. It’s better to keep the rice with hulls and just get it peeled for the amount you need in the next weeks.

Mika will forever know what it takes to put a bowl of steaming rice on the table. From the field to the plate. I’m so happy for these experiences!

It is interesting to note that there are two terms for uncooked rice "okome" and cooked rice "gohan". As rice has been the staple food for thousands of years, gohan also means meal. Asagohan = breakfast (Asa=morning), Hirugohan = lunch (Hiru=lunch), Bangohan= dinner (Ban=evening). If you want to make an impression and pay homage to the rice god, eat every last grain of the bowl of rice. Eating only with chopsticks for a few weeks before traveling to Japan helps as training.

At home we ALWAYS eat every grain of rice (or put the leftovers away for another beautiful meal) in our rice bowls. Maybe that’s a new tradition for you too? Eating with chopsticks is fun for any meal (maybe not suitable for pizza ; )) and in any Asian restaurant where chopsticks are ready to use, you’ll get extra “points” for not asking for a fork or spoon.

Of course only do this if it brings you JOY! Let’s focus more on creating JOY for ourselves and declutter things we dislike to do. I know it’s not possible for any activity but for quite a lot of the things we have to do in a day we can change things up and do it OUR way…which might not be the “usual” way.

Have a great week ahead and take good care of you!

I’m sending you so much loooove from Zurich, Switzerland 💖


* * * * *

This is a story from my weekly Joy-Letter that goes out every Sunday. Do you want to be the first to hear my personal scrapbook stories? Then sign up below.

 * * * * *

Sign up for the bi-weekly JOY-delivery directly from Ronja's scrapbook

Inspirational stories, colorful illustrations, pictures and wisdom which will inspire YOU to live your life YOUR way, full of things, which bring you JOY!

I will never sell your information for any reason and of course you can unsubscribe at any time.