Day 13 - Winter Stores
I began the day with an early-morning walk across the river to the well-known shrine, Zenkaidou, in the neighbouring village of Hishigata. It was a very cold and crisp morning, but it wasn't raining and there was plenty of wildlife about. Wandering around the quiet village, I was particularly pleasantly suprised to come across a tanuki (raccoon dog) sleeping on top of a small mound of straw at the edge of the settlement. After a few minutes, it started to stir and gradually became aware of my presence. Instead of panicking, however, it remained quite calm, simply staring at me for a while before slowly walking off into the surrounding woodland. My spirits were greatly lifted by such an enchanting encounter, and after a look around the beautiful shrine and its garden I headed back to Funato for breakfast in a very good mood.
After several days of rain, today was a fine day, which, as Sato-san reminded me, meant it was a work day. The agenda for the day was to harvest all of the remaining daikon and kabu (turnip) in the vegetable plot nearby in preparation for the coming snow. I therefore spent the morning collecting the daikon and kabu, cutting off the leaves and stems, and putting everything into separate bags to take back home. After lunch, Makiko-san and I washed all of the vegetables, and then I took the daikon to Toutoutei for storage (out of reach of thieving monkeys!) whilst she carefully hung up the leaves and stems beside Wasaikan to dry. I mentioned to Makiko-san that people don't often grow or eat daikon in the UK, and she told me that it is one of the main winter foods in Japan, and is especially useful because you can eat all of it. Today was the most thorough farm work I've done here in Toyomi so far, and there was something very satisfying about handling the daikon myself all the way from the field to its winter storehouse. The added bonus was that Makiko-san then proceeded to cook a delicious supper using the daikon we'd just harvested; about as fresh as vegetables can come, and a concept that the Japanese call Chokusou (from field to table).