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You will be fine when you touch the soil! “Trip to Okinawa x Agricultural Experience” This key word is getting attention in Okinawa now.
post : 2015.04.18 18:00
It is an about 30 minute car ride from Naha. Itoman City is located in the southernmost part of mainland Okinawa. This city is well-known for natural beaches, fishermen and war historic sites as well as one of the largest agricultural heartlands in Okinawa.
It was a comfortable Thursday with sunshine of urizun (early summer).
The fields near the sea of Itoman was full of shrill happy cries.
Children from Kanakana, an after-school child day care, in Haebaru Town were enjoying an onion harvest experience while getting muddy.
One of the enjoyable ways of tourism in Okinawa is to fully enjoy something extraordinary.
To soak yourself in a transparent blue ocean.
To take a long deep breath in the lush subtropical forest.
To lick your lips over Okinawan food at the market with a deep atmosphere.
When you experience different charms of Okinawa, you can feel refreshed in both body and soul.
The most recommended activity is an agricultural experience in Okinawa.
It is because you will gain energy by directly touching soil as well as make friends with local people.
As scientists in the world have made research, it seems that touching soil and plants give you the power to revive your heart.
For example, a researcher from Bristle University in England, which has produced 11 Nobel Prize winners, released the result of research into the effect of bacteria in the soil that is the same found in the antidepressant agent. Also in Japan, Hyogo Prefectural Awaji Landscape Planning & Horticulture Academy has conducted a research that touching soil increases the hemoglobin concentration, that is, it will activate the brain.
You might be wondering if it does not have to be in Okinawa to take an agricultural experience.
Yes, it does! There are some charms that only Okinawa can offer. I would like to introduce five charms of all.
Charm 1: “You can experience the nature in Okinawa in a different style from a resort activity.”
In Okinawa, you feel summer-like spring and summer-like autumn as well as mild, spring-like winter. Just standing in the fields makes you thoroughly feel the sense of seasons that only Okinawa can provide.
In the breeze from the blue ocean, when you touch the soil under the subtropical sun, you feel the power of nature in Okinawa through your palms.
Charm 2: “You can observe unique insects and wild flowers.”
Ms. Chitose Akamine, who has been conveying charms of agricultural experience from Okinawa, emphasized “Agriculture is extraordinary.” At fields in Okinawa, especially fields where agricultural chemicals are not used, you can find and touch unusual insects that cannot be found in mainland Japan.
Charm 3: “You can touch island vegetables that are not familiar in mainland Japan such as goya (bitter gourd), island carrots, kandaba (young sweet potato leaves and shoots), moui (red gourd), etc.
Charm 4: “You can be deeply connected with local people.”
“Agricultural experience is a tool to be connected with local people.”
Ms. Akamine believes that everybody can be deeply connected with each other through agricultural work. Especially knowing the viewpoints of nature, work, and the world of those who face nature every day is a big attraction for tourists who are looking forward to meeting people.
“Isn’t it attractive to each other for children visiting Okinawa for sightseeing and Okinawan children spend time together?”
Akamine-san said that during the break. When people who have grown up in different places share the same experience, they might nurture the skill of accepting the diversity.
Charm 5: “You can experience the difference between agriculture in the temperate zone and that in the subtropical zone.”
They can experience that the difference in the climate makes the difference in soil, the seasons to grow, how to grow, kinds of crops, etc. They can experience the diversity of nature. Even though they cannot directly see very small movement in the soil, they can witness the difference that “In the mild climate of Okinawa, microbial degradation is so active that decomposing fertilizers is very fast.”
Those are the merits of the agricultural experiences in Okinawa. Ms. Akamine would like especially mothers with small children to enjoy the agricultural experience at fields using natural farming methods.
“Everybody wants their children to eat something safe, but they don’t know much about it. I used to be one of them. Agriculture has many different styles, but when you actually experience it at the fields, you will discover something very important. There are a variety of cultivation methods such as general cultivation, natural cultivation, organic cultivation. I would like them to use “ennou (regular support of farm works by consumers)” for an opportunity to know what the differences are. And it would be wonderful for mothers to have the knowledge to choose what to eat,” said Akamine-san.
A friend of Akamine-san’s farming pals is Mr. Kazutaka Nakamura, who owns this filed.
Last year he cultivated mainly carrots, onions, island garlics, basil. In summer, he cultivates goya (bitter gourd), wax gourds, okura, naaberaa (sponge gourd), cucumbers, etc. Since 5 to 6 years ago, he started cultivation of traditional vegetables as well.
“I would like people to know what is going on at an agricultural field in the subtropical zone as well as savor the world they can see at the field.”
Nakamura-san, a young farmer in his thirties using natural farming methods, thinks that he wants to try cultivation of Okinawan traditional vegetables, western herbs, island herbs as well as revive indigenous vegetables.
Now the word “ennou” is becoming common in Japan. Taking an agricultural experience in Okinawa means, in a sense, to become a supporter of Okinawa.
Instead of covering time and effort for agricultural work, if people living outside of Okinawa simply become connected with farmers in Okinawa, it would be more ideal for Okinawa to gain energy.
* An agricultural experience is conducted for a group of 5 or more persons basically. The participation fee (including souvenir) is 2,000 yen for adult and 1,000 yen for child (3 year-olds to junior-high school students). For an option, you can enjoy BBQ using freshly-caught vegetables, island pork, island beef, etc. For details, please contact Akamine-san of “Food and Child Rearing NATURAL.”
Food and Child Rearing NATURAL
Address: 1406-131, Ahagon, Itoman City, Okinawa
Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer Nobuya Fukuda