Day 66 of 182 (day 2 of 7 阿蘇山 WWOOF)

SAM DIARY ENTRY-TODAY me and Joe went to a dye workshop with まさみさん and 30 other children. We each made a コヒ色バグ (coffee coloured bag) with white rings from wrapping strings.

Clear blue sky with hard frost this morning. Cold but beautiful start to day. For the first time in 66 days, Sam & Joe not with their parents all day. Boys went with まさみさんto kindergarten for Dye Making workshop. Heidi & Brad meanwhile treated to a visit to the old Academy school, now used as community centre. Hugely inspirational stuff. Sense of something very exciting happening in this area, with real commitment to Transition Towns, hosting art festivals, using local resources. Collect new Kerosene Heater for room.

THEN Jirosan, Brad, and Heidi harvested Taro in a field of black, rich, volcanic earth. Dig 4foot trench, climb in, pull up handful soil, sift, sort Mother Taro (to be replanted) from new Taro. Labour intensive, no machinery, ancient. Experience shared by Japanese farmers for thousands (Wikipedia reckons 7 000) of years under these same volcanic mountains.

THEN lunch (warmed up now…we at roughly same latitude of Morocco meaning high midday sun)…after satisfying meal of rice & miso soup, Brad replaces chains on 2 bikes.

After lunch, chainsaw & chopping wood (familiar for Heidi & Brad)…finish work at 5 and evening ONSEN…

Grass-burning: 阿蘇山 has 5 times more grassland than the next highest grassland area in Japan, so unique in landscape, farming, and culture. Each area has annual grass-burning festivities. It is a really REALLY big thing, and for our WWOOF area grass-burning is tomorrow…

JOE DIARY ENTRY-TODAY we saw the grass burning. We arrived at the fields to men climbing out with flame throwers! Next thing we know the grass has become 20m high flames. The flames would come speeding along!

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