Hello from Saku, Nagano

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korekaranoka
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Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by korekaranoka » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:16 pm

Hello everyone!

Just been introduced to this forum by Zasso Nouka who I've been following for a while now on instagram. Originally from Scotland, I came to Japan last year via a ten year stint in the food and drinks industry in Paris. It's not my first time here - I studied Japanese at university some twenty years ago and have been coming over often since then - but it is my first time living here full time as a grown-up shakaijin. My wife is Japanese and had been wanting to move back for a while (she had a job waiting for her with her former company in Tokyo) but I was unsure about getting a regular job and so decided to take advantage of the situation and turn our lives around: I spent the last two years in France learning organic farming, and getting my permaculture PDC, all with a view to becoming a farmer in Japan. After looking around for a while, visiting some farms and attending a few farming related events, and talking with farmers at farmers' markets, I decided to follow the Japanese official farming route and become a nōgyō kenshūsei on a small organic farm in Nagano back in April. While it hasn't been easy, it has been a good way to get my foot in the door, find some land, meet the locals, get onto a free organic farming course at the Nōgyō Daigakkō in Komoro and, of course, get all the nods of official approval and support from the JA guys and girls. In fact, the only advantage I have been able to receive is the 1,500,000 yen annual government grant, and that's only because I don't yet have a permanent residency visa (haven't yet been a resident long enough to apply), although that also means I'm freer to do what I want (no need to farm for ten years or else repay the grant or - had I chosen the sato-oya system rather than the kenshūsei system - not leave Nagano prefecture. I won't have my "license" until next April, but I've already found myself some land (the kind that none of the Japanese want: half a hectare of disused rice paddies up a deer-infested mountain valley with a one track decrepit road) and am currently busy (3 days off a week from my regular kenshūsei program) knocking it back into shape and getting it ready for spring before winter sets in (I'm at 1000m altitude so the temperature will be dropping quickly with snow not far behind). I'm not intending to grow anything Japanese (why compete?!) but am intending to farm professionally and already have a few restaurants interested, both here in Nagano and in Tokyo.

Anyway, I'm glad to have found this forum and look forward to meeting some of you soon, particularly anyone in Nagano!

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by Zasso Nouka » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:13 am

Welcome to Japan Simple Life korekaranoka and thank you for taking the time to sign up, it's really appreciated.

We're a small and quiet community but there are some positives to that in that everyone is friendly and we don't get any of the drama or trolling larger communities sometimes suffer from.

The farming apprenticeship you've undertaken sounds like a very good idea for anyone wanting to get into farming, I imagine we wouldn't have had so many failures on our farm in the beginning if we had done something similar. It's good to get as much official support as you can at the beginning and having that can make a huge difference when looking for land and setting up.

I love seeing how other folk set their land up how they want it and then move forward, learn something new every time. So am keen to see how you get on with it. Do you think the deer will be a problem or do you think they will ignore your land ? Sorry if that's a silly question but we don't have to deal with many wild animals here except for Tanuki and Hakubishin and they are only after the chickens.

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Re: Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by sigismund » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:48 am

Welcome to JSL karekaranoka. Sounds like you are already off to a great start. Your property sounds pretty isolated. How far are you from your nearest neighbors?

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Re: Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by korekaranoka » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:15 am

Hello Zasso Noka and Sigismund and thanks for the welcome! Well, the deer are sufficiently problematic to have discouraged anyone else from taking the land! That's not quite true - there are other reasons (fields too small for tractors to turn around, less than perfect sun etc.), but they are enough of a problem to warrant me forking out 100,000 yen on electric fencing from the get-go (have been advised to put them up before I even plant anything - to get the deer used to them and chase them off before they see anything that catches their fancy! Plus, I'm keen to try the peanut butter challenge!).

As for the apprenticeship, while I don't regret it, it has been hard and I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone with less than fluent Japanese or an iron will (or indeed the time to do otherwise): while I've learnt a few things here, I really learned all I wanted to know in France (I'll be specialising in French veg, after all, not Japanese...) and it's been more about doing what I'm told and fitting in than any kind of real discussion... Will try to post some photos later on this evening (do I have to reduce the file size myself or can I upolad as is?).

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Re: Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by gonbechan » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:13 am

Korekaranoka a big, warm welcome to JSL.
I think you will be a great addition to the community and I am certainly looking forward to following your ongoing experience.

Your photos, you can either upload them with a resize or hotlink them from an account like Flickr and the board will resize them to fit.

Once again, let me say how excited I am to hear more from you.

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Re: Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:57 am

Good idea with the electric fence, you see more and more countryside farmland surrounded by electric fences these days as the numbers of active hunters reduces and the population of wild animals increases. Do you have a solar/battery setup or have mains power there ?

Will the elevation your land is at mitigate the worst effects of summer on European veg ? Where we are we mostly grow Japanese veg in summer as European ones mostly keel over and die in the intense heat and humidity, it's only this month that we have been seeding autumn and winter European varieties. Does the snow prohibit farming in winter or is it light enough that you can carry on with hardy varieties ?

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Re: Hello from Saku, Nagano

Post by Eric in Japan » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:47 pm

Welcome to JSL!
Deer... At least I don't have to deal with deer here in Ibaraki... yet. Although they are slowly but surely spreading this direction.
The wild boars and crows are problem enough LOL.

I look forward to hearing how your farm pans out!
Keep us posted!
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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