Iwakuni Station residents take to the fields, plant rice
IWAKUNI CITY, Japan -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents experienced part of Japanese culture during a rice planting event with the Marine Corps Community Services Cultural Adaptation Program in Iwakuni City, Japan, June 9, 2018.
The rice planting experience was held so MCAS Iwakuni residents could see how rice is traditionally planted.
“If you are sitting home doing nothing, staying on base thinking that there is nothing to do, then you should totally get out and see Japan,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Ashley Aclese, a registered nurse with Naval Family Branch Clinic Iwakuni. “You can really experience a totally different culture that you might never experience again.”
The station residents walked side-by-side through a muddy rice paddy with Japanese locals, plunging the roots of small rice plants into the water and mud in neat rows.
After planting rice, the group of participants ate homemade curry and visited a farmers market that sells locally grown rice.
For more than 10 years, station residents have come to the rice paddies in Iwakuni to plant rice in the spring and return in the fall to harvest it.
Kikuko Shinjo, an Iwakuni resident, started the event, and she attends and coordinates many other events for station residents.
Shinjo is the leader of Chiiki Kouryu No Sato, a volunteer group that coordinated the event alongside Marine Corps Community Services, Iwakuni City Hall, Yamaguchi Prefectural Government Offices and local farmers.
Mikie Watanabe, a cultural adaptation specialist with Marine Corps Community services, said the Cultural Adaption Program provides opportunities for station residents to experience local culture and helps them overcome language and culture barriers through events like this one.