Marines get muddy during rice-planting event
Many years ago, farmers planted and harvested their crops through long hours of manual labor. But, in today’s world the processes have been industrialized
through myriad innovations to keep up with supply and demand. However, there are farmers who still practice the ageold art of planting their crops by hand.
This was demonstrated May 4 when more than a dozen Marines volunteered to plant rice at a local farm in Gotemba, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. The event was part of the Fuji U.S.-Japan Friendship Association’s ongoing community outreach program, which Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, has been a part of for several years.
“We interact with the Japanese people as much as possible to learn from them and maintain positive relations,” said Capt. Robert D. Dodson, the Headquarters Company commander, Camp Fuji. “With our base so close to the town, it’s extremely important for us to interact with our Japanese hosts.”
The event also served as a way for Marines to learn about the local economy and participate in traditional planting.
“Gotemba is famous for rice called Gotemba Koshihikari, which is locally grown rice irrigated with spring water from Mount Fuji,” said Shinichi Nakano,
the chairman of the Fuji U.S.-Japan Friendship Association. “One of the friendship association members owns a rice field and wanted Camp Fuji Marines to experience the unique Japanese agricultural tradition. Since the field is close to Camp Fuji, Marines can see how the rice grows whenever they pass it going to and from Gotemba. The Marines will also be invited to help harvest the rice in November and will even get to taste the rice they planted.”
After all of the rice was planted, members of the Fuji U.S.-Japan Friendship Association prepared a variety of traditional foods for their guests to thank them for their hard work.
“I love getting muddy and working with my hands, but the most rewarding part of the experience was being able to see the field full of little rice plants when we were finished,” said Pfc. Collin J. McQuade, a supply administration and operations specialist with Headquarters Co., Camp Fuji. “The food they made for us was interesting. They had candied anchovies, sushi, wild boar meat and even raw deer meat.”
The Fuji U.S.-Japan Friendship Association has hosted this event in the past, and some Marines at Camp Fuji have been fortunate enough to participate more than once.
“This is the second time I’ve been able to do this,” said Dodson. “It is a rewarding experience.”
Although it is a seemingly small event, the Marines and association members see a larger picture. The strong relationship between the Marines and community can continue reinforcing bonds between the two nations, according to Nakano.
Dodson agrees and hopes Marines will continue to embrace the rare opportunity.
“Hopefully the Marines will see that it is not so difficult to get off base, interact with the Japanese, and enjoy participating in their traditions,” said Dodson.