This past Thursday, Chabad of Japan kids celebrated Lag Baomer by learning Torah and going out to the fields.
Though there were thunderstorms predicted, we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day. The group drove to Chiba, and enjoyed the planting of rice fields, which was a fascinating hands on learning experience and tons of fun.
The rice field workers took the kids on the rice planting traktor. It is a thin wheeled traktor with sheets of rice plants positioned diagonally. A special device pulls the plant from the sheet and ”staples” it into the very muddy, watery earth. It has a special sensor that senses if the traktor is driving ”out of the line”, since the rice is planted in perfectly straight lines, and every centimeter means more rice.
The children helped to load the traktor with the rice plants and saw first hand how much work goes into growing delicious ”Nihon Kome”- Japanese rice. The rice will be harvested in September, G-d willing.
Rice is one of the rare foods that there is a debate which blessing to make before eating. Since it is a grain, that grows from the ground, but in water. Some say ”Shehakol”, some ”Mezonot” while others eat bread before , which is an all inclusive blessing.
The next visit was to the strawberry greenhouses which were full of different types of strawberries, one sweeter, one juicier, another bigger. The Chabad House children picked and picked until their hands (and faces) were pink from strawberry juice. They also brought boxes of strawberries to the Chabad House guests back in Omori.