Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University



Learning about Japanese Agriculture and Food – Experience Rice Harvesting in YABAKEI


Nov 12, 2009

On Saturday, October 10, 2009, APU students experienced rice harvesting at Yabakei, Nakatsu City and under a beautiful autumn sky enjoyed deepening their friendships with the locals. Through the rice growing process, from planting to harvest, the participants learned about Japanese agriculture and food-culture through exchange with the local community and the surrounding natural environment. Now in its 6th year, this rice growing experience program is hosted by the Co-op and run in conjunction with the Co-op Management Committee, a student support organisation.

The eleven international students and nine domestic students were guided by the local farmers on the rice harvest and bailing process, how to operate the machinery and how to tell the difference between the rice plants and weeds. They then tried their hand at operating the machinery and rice harvesting. The back-bending work proved tough for the students who tried it for the first time, but everyone had a good time enjoying the natural surroundings, a BBQ with locally provided food from the Co-op and a dip in the onsen hot spring after work.

Some of the participating students gave their comments, "I now know just how hard and fun rice growing is", "I have never been involved in farming in my home country, but now, having participated in this tour, I have become much more interested in it". Their messages were put together on a message card and presented to the farmers.

Looking back on the activities, Co-op Management Committee Member OKAMURA Hiroko (APS3, Japan) spoke of her aspirations for the future, "I think that taking part in this agriculture program and exchange with the locals has been a wonderful experience for the participants. It proved very popular, especially amongst the international students. In the future, I hope to hold a similar event in Beppu City and provide more opportunities for our students to get involved in farming and local exchange."

Furthermore, the harvested rice will be used at the "Mochitsuki" rice cake making event held every New Year by the Co-op and distributed then to the students.

The Co-op Management Committee (CMC) has been active since 2008 and aims to deepen connections with the Co-op and get involved in Co-op development from a student point of view. The Committee provides a range of support for Co-op hosted events such as rice planting and harvesting, rice cake making and Campus Health Days. They have also conducted nutritional surveys, assisted in the development of a new cafeteria menu and participated in exchange with other universities. They are currently working on a map of Beppu for new spring entrants called "Beppu Komappu". Please look forward to more developments from the Co-op Management Committee.

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