What is our responsibility to the nature?
How can we keep the sustainability of nature?
The fieldtrip to Takahata answered these questions.
From Mr. Arae
Our group visited a vineyard of Mr. Arae, who is one of the farmers growing grapes for Takahata Wine. We helped him removing small bunches of grape which keep the big bunches to grow properly. Quoting Mr. Arae “Growing grapes is all about subtraction. Those who are greedy and try to obtain as much crop as possible cannot grow sweet and nice-looking grapes.”
Living with wild animals
The day of a grape farmer is long. On 8:30am Mr. Arae took us to his vineyard by his light truck. What was as amazing as the first ride on the carrier was the scenery of the surface of the mountains that was covered with grape greenhouse. At the moment we get out of the carrier, we heard an explosive sound. At first we thought it is a sound of shooting who hunts wild animals, but he taught me that it is a firework to drive monkeys away from the farming land to the mountains and demonstrated the firework in front of us too.
A damage caused by wild animals on the crop has been the concern of Takahata farmers for a long time. The damage is getting worse year after year because of the loss of country hill (satoyama).It functioned as a transition from the forest to the human area, but as the depreciation of the tree went on and satoyama disappears, animals lost their habitat and food source which made them to come down to the human inhabiting area to get food.
We enjoyed Mrs. Arae’s deluxe lunch which was full of locally made vegetables at Arae’s. Mr. Arae excitedly introduced his house with chimney and a wood stove. The use of the wood stove is not in fashion in Takahata, but he enjoys using it as his hobby. “You cannot do this bothersome work of cutting trees and chopping woods only for stove if you don’t enjoy it.” Modernization and automatization is also a thing in Takahata.
Mrs. Arae told us a story that their neighbor was attacked by a bear in the mountain. “Bears are afraid of humans. They only attack us when we meet them face to face. We have to make sure that they notice our presence without showing ourselves in front of them so that they can run away.” Her tips sounds more credible than any textbooks.
After lunch, we went to another greenhouse where Mr. Arae grows another spices of grape that is for eat. The grapes were one week away from reaping, and they were covered with paper umbrella which is to protect grapes from a scratch especially made by birds. We sat down under the grape trees and ate grape and talked.
Mr. Arae’s grape farming is extremely clean. He told me to throw away the paper umbrella and the skin of grape on the ground as it can go back to the soil eventually. Stapler that fixed the paper umbrella can also be littered on the ground since it is made of iron. The only thing that cannot be processed in the soil is plastic. He told us that he chooses non-plastic material when it comes to farming, from the paper umbrella to the tape to stick on the branch.
We also had a chance to hear lectures from Mr. Izawa, Mr. Endo and Professor Hara. The number of researcher and books about Takahata shows that how that small town is successful and remarkable case of organic farming.
Somokuto is an unique symbol of coexistence of human and nature. The history of Takahata has long been withSomokuto, which shows that people in Takahata were always reminded the sense of gratitude towards nature by the statue. I think this is one of the reason why the organic farming has been successful in Takahata.
Throughout the fieldtrip, I felt that Takahata is environmentally conscious town by industry and by people. Farmers are aware that the nature should not be depreciated with human’s ego and practice the green and sustainable farming. This responsible behavior seems not be acquired by education, but from the practice of daily lives and the story of the land and family.
So, what is the answer for the questions? –It’s Takahata. You cannot find the real answer if you don’t go there and inhale the clean air there.