So on Sunday I went rice planting. These days, most rice planting is done by machine, not by hand. However, because of the lack of good farmland, most fields are still small enough that you could do them by hand if necessary.
I was invited by the owner of a restaurant that Sara and I frequent, and we took the bus over to the paddies, about a fifteen minute ride, well within the city limits.
When you plant rice, it turns out you don't plant the seeds first, as I would have expected. Instead, you grow the seeds somewhere else, until you get little shoots, and those you plant in the paddy. So in our case, the shoots were already grown, and we just walked through the paddy and stuck them in the mud, more or less.
Except, of course you have to measure this so that it goes in an orderly fashion. And for whatever reason, it took four men about an hour to take two pieces of string the width of the field and make marks 60cm apart. This wouldn't have been so bad, except there were about forty people waiting on them, with more showing up all the time.
All told, the planting proper only took about two hours for an area about half the size of a football field, but we had more than sixty people helping.
So, in practice, planting the rice meant holding a huge tray of the shoots in one hand, walking through the mud, and then sticking them in rows as neatly as possible.
Afterwards, there was an attempt to drink all the sake leftover from the previous year, but even with sixty people there was too much.