Cultivating the Paddy to Cultivate the Future: Joy and Challenges of a Small Scale Farmer in Rural Japan

corn growing in a field

Monday, March 05, 2018

Japan heavily relies on imported food produced overseas including the USA. Its food self-sufficiency rate marked 38 percent (on a calorie basis) in 2016, one of the lowest countries for developed countries. On the other hand, Japan's rural area, due to de-population, has been losing its ability not only to produce food but also to maintain Satoyama ecosystems, leaving both rural and urban areas more vulnerable to natural disasters which, with climate change, are occurring in more unpredictable manners.

However, even under these circumstances, there are people who migrate into the rural area in search for alternatives to the current food and agriculture system, which is part of the global food system since 60% of food in Japan is imported. Some cultivate paddy fields or vegetables, while others recover the abandoned land, saying no to the heavily urbanized and "convenient" lifestyles at the expenses of our neighbors' lives and the environment of marginalized countries as well as the planet, and eventually our future generation. Nami Yamamoto is one of these urban migrants, who decided to go into the rural area and live there as new dweller with her partner and two young children, and will share the living experiences full of joy and difficulties in search of an alternative lifestyle in a rural village in Japan.