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Here's a little photo essay to accompany Akiba's short summary below of our trip to Kamogawa last weekend. Click on the slide show to access the album along with geotagged google map view of the Kamogawa Valley. More photo's and video to follow. Thanks for a great time everyone!
Paul aka sonicviz aka Komuso Tokugawa
Trip Summary from Akiba aka Freaklabs:
Thanks to everyone that participated in the Kamogawa trip! The trip itself
was amazing and I got the chance to see a completely different side of
Japan. Everyone we met was so nice, helpful, and curious about the strange
otaku group that was interested in the process of rice farming and charcoal
A big thanks also to Chris Harrington who organized everything for us. He
took us around the whole area, introduced us to many people in the
community, and gave us the chance to see what I believe is the real Japan.
We met four men in their 70s/80s that were active farmers and basically
started their own hackerspace like club. They built their own kiln for
charcoal making and showed us the whole process including their kiln. We
also bought quite a bit of charcoal from them for hackerspace barbecues. We
got high quality wood charcoal at less than half the price you can get in
We had an amazing dinner at a pottery maker's café. After dinner, he cracked
open a bottle of sake and treated us to sake served in glasses that he
hand-made. He sat down to drink with us and our discussions ranged from
dancing, technology, differences between Western and Japanese culture and
thinking, to the future of mankind. It was in that particular order and the
conversations got more interesting as we drank.
We also met one of the organizers for a sustainable living group in Kamogawa
and we discussed the feasibility of using technology to do a population
count of the monkeys, deer, and boars that are invading the farms and eating
the crops. If we can get some numerical data on the populations and types of
animals that are coming down, we can put together a plan to plant low-cost
crops outside the farm areas so the animals won't need to come down and
steal from the farms.
And of course, we saw Chris Harrington's plot of land that he's clearing for
his farm. The work he's done so far is amazing and he's done it largely by
himself. While we were there, we also saw some other areas that we can
probably contribute to help the local farms around him.
Overall, we have a lot of ideas and lots of plans to make. I suspect that
we'll be going out there on a regular basis. We stayed at a minshuku that
taught you how to do rice farming this time. The next trip, we'll probably
stay at the campgrounds and bring/rent tents to pitch. They have a barbecue
area, showers, AC outlets, and are very close to the Kamogawa beach.
Hope we can have others join us next time too. I'll be posting more info
about the trip on the Tokyo Hackerspace blog and also the pictures I took.
Thanks again Chris H and everyone that participated!