Surprising farmers English page
Takema is a village in the deep mountains of northern Kumamoto prefecture. It's close to the border of southern Fukuoka prefecture. Rice farming is very active nowadays, however, there were only 12 hectares of rice fields and 168 hectares of vegetable fields 180 years ago. The village was small and poor, and the population was only 850 people. The annual rice crop was about 270 goku. This is a small amount for the annual amount of rice in which adults eats was 1 goku ( 2000 rice bowls ) at the time...
Why is the rice yield is low? It's because Takema is in the high and deep mountain. At that time, the farmers carried waters by walking for 2.2 km from the river to the fields every single day, even hot and cold days... Therefore the rice farming at the time was difficult.
The farmers were growing vegetables instead of rice for a living, because vegetables need less waters. Then they were selling harvested vegetables to the dealers at the villages of Yamaga and Kutami . Selling their vegetables through these dealers made it difficult for farmers to earn a decent living.
Tyouemon thought everyday of methods of delivering water to the fields that could help farmers and increase rice yields. Tyouemon advised farmers on building an aqueduct that could bring mineral water from Mt kumini-dake, which is at an elevation of 1080m, to the rice fields. This water is also believed to make crops more resistant to disease.
However, the construction to build the aqueduct wasn't easy. The distance was 4 km from the mountain to the rice farm. Not only that, there were many dangerous points for construction. The director of the village, Isuke Nishijima was concerned about the construction, but he decided to go for it for the sake of Tyouemon and the farmer's strong wishes for Takema's development.
In October 1825, They received federal funding of 9800 mon ( current rate is about 200,000 yen ), and started to build an aqueduct. The construction process was going well until it destroyed by flood in May next year. Then, they had to redo it again…
The next year, the stone specialist Kangoro joined the project, and received another 9000 moon ( about 180,000 yen ) as a funding, and construction began again. However, the aqueduct was destroyed by flood again, and they were out of funds… They had to stop the project again.
In 1828, three years after the beginning of construction, they received funds from Saemon Shimada and Junzaemon Tomita, and reopened the project. The stone specialist from Bizen, rejoined this time. Finally the aqueduct was completed thru the cooperation of farmers and stone specialists. After many challenges, now they have a water delivery system to the fields.
Since that year, rice farming has been going smoothly. The abundance of water delivered by the aqueduct allowed rice yields to steadily increase. Now, after 180 years, Takema is a thriving rice farming region.
Takema rice is famous and It is known as "The rice that the farmer like to buy" nowadays.
It is very popular in farmers community too.
It is expensive and has a reputation for high quality, especially the first grade, which is often difficult to buy in stores.
Recently, takema rice was given to the emperor as a tribute.
The water is from a mineral rich spring high on the mountain Kumini-dake, at an elevation of 1080m. This water is used exclusively in the production of Takema rice. It is believed by farmers that drinking this water will prevent sickness. The farmers put great concern for the consumers into the production of the rice.
It is a ideal climate for growing crops in Takema. Because the rice fields are surrounding by mountains, It's very cool in the morning and night, and hot during the day in the Summer. Those differences in the temperature between day and night, make crops grow stronger and more vigorously. This high quality rice crop is highly anticipated in the fall, when it is harvest season.
The farmers say, "the rice...must be treated with care, grown and nurtured like ones own child, as naturally as possible. That is the way of the farmer in Takema. It's the farmer's spirit of the rice farming…
Today, even 180 years past, the present farmers will never forget about the spirit of the rice farming's " passion " and " persistency " handed down from the ancestors.
Rice farmer Mutsuo Oniduka