Kurumeki’s terraced rice field holds rice cutting event with outside supporters
SHIZUOKA, Oct. 31 – In late October, a rice harvesting and hanging event was held in tanada (tiered rice paddies) in Kurumeki, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, inviting outside tanada supporters. The participants worked hard, tackling golden ears of rice under the autumn blue sky.
Kurumeki Tanada has a long history dating back to the Heian or Muromachi era. In the Sengoku period (the period of civil wars in Japan), the Ii clan supported villagers in cultivating the field. Farmers growing rice with poor water sources and no waterways face difficulties in securing enough water, so they collect rainwater in the rainy season in June to prepare for rice planting.
The region is home to the local legend of “Ryugu-kozou,” which is said to have appeared from a local river and helped villagers grow rice.
The event was organized by “Kurumeki Ryugukozou no Kai,” a group of villagers and outside supporters who gathered to preserve the traditional rice field. The group was established in 2015, and since then, local farmers have taken the lead in providing instructions on how to grow rice. Currently, local farmers and outside supporters, 27 in total, manage the rice paddies totaling 4 hectares out of 7.7 hectares.
It was a clear sunny day. About 40 people, including families, worked hard on the hillside overlooking the foot of the mountain.
Before harvesting the rice, the participants learned how to make ropes for hazakake (hanging rice to dry) from local farmers. Ryuhei Kanno, 48, has been participating in the event for three years and said, “I want my kids to share the time and effort involved in growing rice and learn the importance of nature.”
After making the ropes, they cut rice in the headland and the surrounding rice paddies with sickles, tied three to four handfuls of rice stalks with a rope, and put them on the racks.
Yuichi Nishimoto, 73, is a local rice farmer and chairman of the group. “I hope children here will someday bear the future of the rice terrace,” he said with a smile, looking at the golden rice field shining in the autumn sunset.