Taking a break from research and being surrounded by computers and lab equipment, international students were able to spend one morning around Takayama Chikurin-en (https://www.tikurinen.jp/) to experience planting rice and preparing matcha. This event was organized by NAIST and Ikoma City. We were able to talk with the citizens of Ikoma and even had the opportunity to meet the mayor!
NAIST provided us with gloves, socks, and a towel for the event (thank you!), and we got down in the mud to start planting. Farmers showed us the proper way to grab the seedlings and put them in the ground. It was a relaxing experience for some, but others were a bit more competitive and wanted to finish; I didn’t finish, though.
Our time was up, and most of us were not able to finish our lanes. Fortunately, they had tractors that could finish much faster than us (glad to see how modernized the agricultural sector had become). We washed up and headed towards Takayama Chikurin-en for a brief tour and to learn about preparing matcha. The staff showed us the proper way to prepare matcha using 茶筌 (chasen). I didn’t know it would be so tiring to whisk tea, but it was the proper way to do it.
We ended the event by talking with Ikoma citizens, fellow students, and NAIST staff and taking photos together in on the open yard. It was nice to spend time in the rice fields and take a break from research and the big cities like Osaka. It was also a great opportunity to meet locals and new friends; they were also very eager to meet international students living in the city!
Group photo by NAIST staff