The elementary school 5th graders had a "Rice Planting Class" this week. Each year the 5th grade class learns how to plant rice and then come autumn they will experience cutting the rice. Finally their harvested rice will be served at a school lunch.
Rice planting this year happened on a morning when I was around and I hurried over at the appointed time. The rice field is a narrow one near the road and every year the farmer who owns it prepares it for planting with his tractor, floods it for the children and then conducts a rice planting class.
As I learned yesterday (I listened in to the class) there are 88 steps to produce a harvest of rice... The children did only one of those steps yesterday. (And for my Japanese readers, did you know that the Chinese character for RICE is made up of the strokes for 88? 米. 八on top, 十 in the middle, and 八 again on the bottom.)
Anyway... the children walked over to the rice field and shed their shoes.
The parents who were there to help divided the slats of rice into manageable portions for the children to hold.
A string with markers attached had been stretched across the flooded field and the children were lined up along the bank and told to step down into the mud.
You should have heard the screams from the girls! It seems that rice field mud is warm and oozy and grabs hold of toes and ankles. Some of the children started floundering amidst a lot of laughter and squelching around.
"Help! This feels so weird!"
"I'm going to fall over!"
"Teacher, the mud is splashing up on my legs!"
To which the teacher replied "Then stand still!"
Finally the planting began. The farmer instructed the children to pull off two or three stems of rice from the portion they had been given and then the rice was to be pressed down into the mud under the string marker.
One girl made the observation, "Why does my nose have to start itching NOW!?"
And of course I just laughed along with everybody and aimed my camera.
Gradually the hilarity died down and the planting got underway.
In a short time the class of 30 some children had a row of rice planted and they were instructed to take a step back and the string marker was moved back a few inches. Then the next row could be planted the same was as the first.
A few minutes after the rice planting started, the 1st grade class walked over from the school to watch the fun.
I'm afraid I had to leave about then so I only got to see the first two rows planted.
As I got back in my car I heard some screams and laughter and caught a glimpse of a teacher pulling one child up from his SITTING position in the mud. Missed that photo chance... Falling into the mud is probably a norm in this class...