Tag Archives: farm

Mementos: Japan Enokitake (mushroom) Farm etc #flashback

Mementos: Japan Enokitake farm: view entering the farm compound in Saji - note this photo was used in Japan Times in an article about changes in rural Japan
Mementos: Japan Enokitake farm: view entering the farm compound in Saji, Tottoria

Note: Above photo published in Japan Times article: Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan By JAMES HADFIELD

Story: Sometime around 1994, I ended up working as a mushroom farmhand (enokitake and shiitake) in a small mountain village called Saji in Tottori-ken (prefecture), Yazu-gun (county) .

Sometimes, i’d haul soggy Shittake logs around in the forest. The culture is injected as plugs into the wood and then grows from one log to another into meandering perpetuity

A sorta friend of friend of my brother was seeking a foreign worker (at the time, Japan’s economy was in a “bubble” with abundant wealth and no one wanted to do the crappy jobs it turns out). They would pay my airfare and so on, I had just finished a stint hitching and drifting around Europe and before the Grateful Dead tour and thought this would be an interesting adventure.

The turn off to the farm which was a warehouse sorta structure with a variety of indoor/outdoor-ish rooms and shelters with various equipments, storage, supplies etc.

Continue reading Mementos: Japan Enokitake (mushroom) Farm etc #flashback

Rural Caprine Farm and Market (Okayama) / acrylic

Rural Caprine Farm and Market, Okayama
Rural Caprine Farm and Market, Okayama

Rural Caprine Farm and Market (Okayama)
acrylic on stretched canvas
2018

Memory book for Senpai Kobayashi

From Mac Kobayashi, Okayama, Japan

今日、Daveより嬉しい手紙と贈り物が届きました。23年前に、ここで一緒に過ごした時の写真がなく、記憶だけの思い出だと思っていたけれど、彼が古いBOXの中から見つけたくれた。そしてアルバムにして送ってくれました。ありがとう、Dave。若かりし頃の僕達、亡き妻と1歳前の娘。はぁ~、泣けてくるじゃないか(T_T)

Just arrived a wonderful letter & gift from Dave. Maybe I think I lost or wasn’t taken the photos of our good old days that we having time together 23 years ago. But he found it in his old box. Thank you Dave. You and me, my wife and daughter 1-year-old before. So nostalgic feeling.

“Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan” / my photo in The Japan Times

Bob Olson writes, on Sept. 15, 2015:

This photo shows a mushroom farm in Tottori, Japan, where I worked a few days in 1991 with Tyler Smith and Jared Scott; and where my brother Dave Olson toiled for almost a year. Dave took the picture sometime in 1993, scanned it about 10 years ago, and stuck on his Flickr stream under creative commons license. Now it has recently shown up in a Japan Times article. You’d think the Japan Times would have a gazillion stock photos of the Japanese countryside, but they chose Dave‘s evocative image of a stark, cold winter along the Sea of Japan.

Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan

Shape-shifting: This village in Yazu District, Tottori Prefecture, is much like the fictional one in ‘Red Girls,’ which suffers from an aging population and changing customs. | FLICKR / CC BY-SA 2.0

Source: Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan | The Japan Times — Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan
BY JAMES HADFIELD SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES

i added in a comment:

This is Saji-san, Yazu-gun, Tottori. The boss was a collossal jerk and made my life miserable (his wife had just split, he had hemmoroids (which he talked about endlessly) and had been a foreign exchange student in Yakima WA and Couer d’lene Idaho in the 70/80s so think he was using me to exact revenge for the treatment he likely received.

I am hard worker and got paid shit (especially after rent in my bunker-like apartment) but man, this was repetitive, redundant and entirely un-fun after a couple of days.

I drove k-truck to market in Tottori down windy snowy roads and then figured out a way to feed myself and stay warm and do it all again and again. 6 days/week. I finally borrowed a bike, put in back of k-truck, and told him i was leaving. He shouted, “you have no visa, no return ticket and dont speak language!” – he was correct on all accounts but i stuck out my left thumb and had mighty adventures through Shikoku and as far up as Nagano where i found Japanese (and one ex-American Navy man) hippie squatters living in abandoned villages way up in mountains. Lived old timey. Hot springs, gathering mountain vegetables, harvesting rice and wandering high in the hills with my notebooks.

 

Tips for Travelling to and around Japan

Q & A Interview for a web mag (reference lost):

-Did you know anybody in Japan when you went?

Nope, didn’t know anyone or speak a word when i arrived. My older brother had lived in Japan and heard from a friend about a mushroom farm looking for a foreign worker. At the time, I was hitchhiking through the southern US after traveling Europe when i called my Mom to check in. She told me about that he’d pay the airfare. So, 2 weeks later i was standing on the side of road with my backpack, late at night with snow up to my knees waiting for a van to pick me up. The next day i started a 6 day a week, 10 hours a day job growing enoki and shiitake mushrooms.

-How did you survive the communication barrier?

First, humility – you have realize you will sound like a child or a caveman saying “I need food” “where is toilet” and basic tasks become tricky and people will try not to snicker

Second, smiling – i had a long hair and big beard and wore worker’s overalls and rubber boots so people didn’t quite know what to make of me in the rural area where i lived so smiling helped ease the surprise and awkwardness

Third – if you learn a dozen “special” words, you can totally act like you know it all ;-) Domo, dozo, so desu ne, so desu ka, hai hai, itsu, doko, suimasen …

-Any tips to people going to Japan?

Be prepared to simultaneously step 100 years into the future and 100 years into the past. Stay away from everything familiar (restaurants, hotels) and embrace the weirdness. Soak in hotsprings, eat octopus, get lost, head into the mountains and stay in a hut with strangers. For me, hitchhiking the country roads was totally safe and fun – folks picked me up and often invited me to their fave restaurant, tourist attraction, house, bar or temple. I stayed almost entirely away from the cities and found countryside somewhat unexpectedly wild and full of old agricultural and spiritual traditions. I also grew to savour the classic and modern literature of Japan – read these rather than guidebooks before going to better appreciate Japan.