Living in the Country (Organic Food)

Until I met my husband, I was totally a city girl. I needed to be where there were bookshops, cafes and events to attend.

But he loved to fish and I ended up on a fishing boat for the first time. He planted a small garden in our yard. I just enjoyed eating what he grew. Then 12 years ago we had an opportunity to buy this land in the countryside by the Inland Sea .

There was an old house on the property and we’d spend our weekends here. He began planting many varieties of vegetables and some fruit trees. Of course, he used only organic fertilizer and no chemicals at all.

The house had well water but no flush toilet. We had to heat the bath with firewood. I remember coming here with Eri and we went into the sea so we wanted to take a bath afterwards. We spent an hour and a half trying to get the damp wood to burn and finally gave up and had a sponge bath with icy water!

This little log house was built 5 years ago. We have a bath, a flush toilet and a modern kitchen. We still sleep in the old house with futons on the tatami floor.

Hiroo still spends every available minute up on the mountain. Today he is working on a stronger fence to keep the wild boar out. If we let them, they’d devour every single thing we plant.

Yesterday we picked Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, brocoli and nanohana ( an edible flower) . We put the vegetables in the Tajin Nabe for dinner.

On certain days the tide gets really low and only in mid-March can we gather Iwa-nori from the rocks that are exposed at low tide.It has a lot of sand in it so I washed it many times, boiled it, then cooked it again with soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar to make Tsukudani. The fresh seaweed taste is amazing.

We usually eat genmai brown rice but yesterday I made white rice because I was so late getting back. We are so lucky that the sea is at our front door!


I never thought too seriously about organic food until the nuclear disaster in Fukushima last March. Recently we read that a lot of our fish and vegetables may contain unsafe amounts of radiation. Now I always check the labels to see where our food is from. But we are more fortunate than most people because we have this little farm ( far from Fukushima) and grow our own vegetables.

The government is not forthcoming with imformation about radiation levels and is still keeping people in the dark. Here, the government can tell the media not to print certain things and they obey!! Scary, huh?


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kabablanket
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 15:05:37

    Hiroo looks great!! Happy Birthday Hiroo!!!
    I never got to try Iwa-nori yet. It looks so good with bowl of rice!
    What a beautiful land. I can’t wait to be there again…


  2. milliemollymandy
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 17:54:59

    I’m loving reading about your life Leah. I’ve never lived anywhere other than the UK and feel very unadventurous now.
    You’ve inspired me to cut the amount of meat that I feed my family – we’re starting with one vegetarian meal per week (small steps…………).
    Please keep writing.


  3. cheerfulwoman
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 08:27:30

    It sounds amazing. You are lucky to eat so much good food and you have such a positive outlook on life!

    We worry about the radiation issues, too, which makes us feel uneasy about going back. I hope there are independent researchers figuring out what the remaining dangers are…

    I was trying to follow more closely, but it was heartbreaking, especially knowing there wasn’t really anything I could do. I wish the U.S. would follow Germany’s lead and say goodbye to it’s aging nuclear plants. There was a “steam leak” not too far from where I am that had radiation, but they simply said “officials say it is not harmful” and that was it… I notice they like to call them “steam power plants” here, because it sounds so harmless… (Of course I recently saw a documentary about how wind energy is not the simple solution either, as it has become profitable for the old energy companies to do it in a way that is harmful.)

    We sometimes talked about that “U-turn”(?) program that was encouraging people to move back to villages, but I’m not sure we could live in the country. (^_^) Some days I think I could, some days not. I did love traditional Japanese houses, though, and your photos sure make everything look so colorful and refreshing!


    • leahmama1
      Mar 11, 2012 @ 08:49:51

      Thanks for the note. yes. I worry about the radiation a lot recently. From the beginning , the government said ” It is not a harmful level..” We have no way to test the food we buy. I look at all the fish and vegetable labels carefully to see where it’s from. I try to buy locally grown things. Our farm is not self-sufficient yet. There are many things we have to buy.

      People with young children are especially worried. I think our area is still relatively safe. But my daughter in the states is reluctant to visit even! I hope it will be safe for you to visit some day. Especially our area of western Japan. Leah


      • cheerfulwoman
        Mar 11, 2012 @ 09:23:34

        My sister-in-law married an environmental activist, so I should ask her, but there must be trustworthy groups publishing guidelines of what to eat/what not to eat?

        I use a list here of foods which need to be organic due to the excessive pesticide use (apples, celery, potatoes, coffee, etc.), and foods which are okay to buy regular (onions, avocado, etc.). I’m sure the list would be different there, as growing techniques and types of pesticides are different…?

        It’s amazing how much the body can defend itself, though, with proper nutrition. I think some Americans eat only processed foods and it scares me. I had a healthier lifestyle in Japan than here, but I’m trying to be better. Your posts are actually inspiring me to go back to some better cooking habits, too. (^_^)

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