The entire family woke up at 5:30am this morning. They made coffee for me and then drove 40 minutes to the bus station to send me off to Kyoto.
I had a lot of expectations about my trip to Japan, but I never once thought about the lengths to which people would go to make me feel welcome or the depth of the heartbreak I would feel when leaving each home. Especially after the tragic election results in the US, I am in total awe of the people I’ve met here.
The Mameno farm is family-run and grows a variety of vegetables year-round. In my time here, we’ve worked with sweet potatoes, snap peas, barley, cabbage, coriander and cabbage. They send boxes of seasonal vegetables to customers all across Japan twice each week, sometimes including recipes for what to make with them (like a local version of Blue Apron).
You can hear it in my interview with him, but Nori and Satako have made a conscious choice to prioritize quality of life over income. He said they specifically don’t intend to grow the farm much more, to avoid having to hire full-time staff. Right now they make their own schedules, waking up early, but also ending the day early whenever they can.
Tahara is a well-known surfing spot in Japan and the Mamenos live 5 minutes from the beach. Even in 60 degree weather I was able to swim everyday, since the water is still warm. Of course, I was the only one doing so, surrounded by surfers in wet suits.
At the tip of the Tahara peninsula is a hotel with an incredible spa (not an onsen because it’s not a natural hot spring – the water is brought in) that overlooks the waters of Ise bay and the mountains of Mie behind it.
Nori and Satoko live with their 4-year old son Yoshi, their poodle Aaron and their cats, Azuki and Hanako.
I’ll post more photos from my time there when I have a wifi connection. Now off to Kyoto…