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Archive for January 2011

Hobara Countryside at Harvest Time

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Scarecrow Girl

Scarecrow girl

Just a few scenes from the countryside around Hobara (Fukushima Prefecture, Japan) – some rice field scarecrows in August and September, followed by a long walk during the rice harvest in October.

From Hobara you can set out on foot in just about any direction, wander around the maze of country roads through the rice fields, woods, fruit orchards, and bamboo groves, and you’re almost guaranteed to find some interesting things to photograph.

Rice Field Scarecrows

The scarecrows start to appear in August, and remain on duty until the rice is harvested in late September and October.

Standing Guard

Standing guard.

Crowded

It’s getting crowded here.

Husband and Wife Scarecrows

Husband and wife scarecrows

Scarecrow Soldier

Soldier on Duty

October – Rice fields at harvest time

Walking southeast from my apartment for about fifteen minutes will take you into rice country. In August and September the fields are guarded by scarecrows. In October the rice monsters appear. Fortunately, they are not active in the daytime, so it is safe to walk around.

Rice Monsters 1

Sure, they might look like innocent bundles of rice stalks at the moment, but as you can see in some of the other photos, given the right conditions, they begin to take on the appearance of living creatures.

Rice Monsters 2

Rice Harvest

This person is using a combine to harvest the rice, since it is a large field. In small fields, it is common to see people cut and stack the rice by hand.

Bundles of newly harvested rice

Bundles of newly harvested rice

Rice field ready for harvest

Rice field ready for harvest

Rice closeup

Closeup of the rice

Rice monster army

Rise of the rice monsters. Here is a group of newly formed rice monsters looking around, testing their legs, and trying to get their bearings.

Rice monster lineup

Bundles of rice in a newly harvested field. They haven’t quite achieved monster shape yet, but given a little more time, who knows?

Most of the rice fields are on the south and east sides of town, with fruit orchards to the north and west, but there are a few groves of fruit trees mixed in with the rice too. Here are some apples and persimmons. I didn’t know what a persimmon was before I came to Japan. I remembered hearing the word before, but had never given it much thought. Guess what – it’s a fruit!

Apples

Apples

Persimmons

Persimmons

Rice teepees

Rice teepees and wide open spaces

As you have probably noticed from these photos, the rice fields are dry at this time of year. Each rice field is surrounded by a low earthen levee with access to a water source, such as an irrigation pipe or drainage ditch. In the levee there is a system of gates and valves to regulate the amount of water entering the field and draining out of the field. In the spring, the farmers flood the fields and plant the rice. The rice grows in the flooded fields all through the summer. Then in the fall, they drain the fields and harvest the rice.

The area around here is pretty densely populated for a rural area, and even in the middle of the rice fields, there are always groups of houses visible in one direction or another. You have to go about ten kilometers farther east before you really start to get away from them. There is a passenger rail line running through here, with a station wherever it happens to pass through one of these housing developments. The one in these photos is Niida, about halfway between Hobara and Yanagawa, if you want to try finding it on a map. It’s a small unstaffed station – no building, just a boarding platform.

Niida train station

Niida train station

Niida Station tracks

Niida Station platform

Tombstones

Tombstones. There are many small graveyards like this, scattered around the countryside, and also in town. Some of them are very old, with tombstones that are barely readable. But people still come here and leave flowers.

Grain elevators

Yes, they have grain elevators here, and drying bins, and all the usual agricultural support equipment.

Random farmland scene

Random farmland scene

Narrow country road

Narrow country road

Persimmon Tree

Persimmon Tree

Pathway between rice paddies

One of the many pathways between the rice paddies. It’s mainly used by farmers to drive their equipment from one field to another, but is also used by people taking walks in the country.

Rice monsters again

As sunset approaches, we take one more look at the rice monsters before heading home. It looks like they’re busy discussing something.

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Written by hobara09

2011-01-24 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Fukushima, Hobara