For anyone actually following this, here’s an update on the past week, since my writing has slowed down a lot (as my life has gotten more hectic).
- Tuesday (10/25): I left Aoki and Yoshitomo farm. After spending a few hours exploring the Ueda castle ruins, I took a highway bus to Ikebukuro in Tokyo and then a local train to Hanno in Saitama prefecture to meet my new host, Shiki.
- Wednesday (10/26): We drove out to Shiki’s farm in Ome, Tokyo. T.Y. Farm is one of the many ventures of TYSONS & COMPANY and supplies vegetables for the T.Y. Harbor restaurant in Tokyo. It’s a bigger farm than Yoshitomo (which was family run) and has employees working both on the farm and in the office in Tokyo.
- For the next two nights I stayed at “Terrace House”, the crash pad for T.Y. Farm employees – some of whom live there full-time and others stay when they come in for a few days from the main office. Most of the people working there are young, 25 – 35, so we went out in the evenings for drinks and to a local onsen.
- The farm work itself was much busier than at Yoshitomo. There are daily orders for vegetables, so they have to move quickly to fulfill them each morning, before getting back to the regular schedule of planting and harvesting. The farm uses more machinery and the setting is less picturesque than Aoki. This was a bit of a shock after getting used to the slow and meditative work in Aoki, but a good learning experience. I’ll post more about the farm and company soon.
- Saturday (10/29): I explored the town of Hanno where Shiki lives. We went to a “culture festival” at a local school (will post about that soon) and then had a bunch of neighbors over for drinks. Things got a bit rowdy and I came close to attempting to sing an enka song (this one), but fortunately chickened out.
- Sunday (10/30): I took the train to Tokyo (about 40 minutes) and met up with an old friend from Tottori, with whom I stayed for the next few days. I then went over to T.Y. Harbor to meet up with some of the guys from the farm who were running a weekend-long festival in the area (selling vegetables from the farm, street food, bands, etc.). We then went out for yakitori and I walked home from Shibuya through a sea of people dressed up for Halloween.
- Monday (10/31): I waked around Shimokitazawa and Koenji and then went to a spectacular show in Shinjuku. One day I would like to come here and just go to shows every night.
- Tuesday (11/1): I took the train to Hakone, a town about 2 hours from Tokyo, famous for its onsens (hot spring baths). In the evening I went to the Tenzan onsen – one of the more popular onsens in the area – and then went to the Flying Chicken Izakaya. The izakaya (a sort of bar/pub/restaurant) was especially great because most of the regulars who go there are service staff from Hakone – ie. people working at restaurants, hotels, onsens, etc. By the time I got there (9pm), everyone was drunk and singing karaoke (which I politely declined to do).
- Wednesday (11/2): In the morning I did the Hakone “round course” – a sightseeing course that includes a “pirate ship” cruise on the lake, a rope-way through the mountains, etc. Unfortunately the day was dreary and cold, but the view of the sulfuric gasses escaping from the mountain at Owakudani was still spectacular. After Hakone I took a shinkansen (bullet train) to my next farm in Tahara, Aichi, where I will be working starting tomorrow.
I’ll get back to posting more regularly tomorrow (including some detailed posts about this past week). As always, let me know if you have any feedback or anything specific you’re curious about!