●Lucky to call Fukushima home

Over the past eight months I have had the incredible experience of helping to create delicious Fukushima sake with locals in Iizaka Onsen. Back in May I planted rice at a farm on the outskirts of Iizaka along with a few other foreign teachers and some locals. In September we harvested the rice and sent it off to a local brewer to be transformed into their first batch of sake for the year. Earlier this month we enjoyed the fruits of our labor when we all gathered to sample our sake and hold a party. 
At the party we not only enjoyed our sake, but got to try our hand at making gyoza with the guidance of a local master. We also got to play a traditional Japanese badminton game, which turned out to be quite difficult after a couple glasses of sake! The food was delicious and the company was even more enjoyable. We got to chat and interact with many people who had played a part in the production of the sake; many we had met before at the rice planting and harvesting events, and many we had not, like the designer of the label on the sake bottle as well as representatives from the brewery and distribution companies. It was great to see how many hands played a role in the production and to feel like I had a small part in it. 
The process of planting a crop, watching it grow, and then seeing that crop transformed into something many people could enjoy was an entirely new experience for me. I’m from a large city in the U.S. and have never farmed or done much manual work. I’ve also never created anything like sake before. It was wonderful to get my hands dirty and try something new. It felt very rewarding to know my hard work - combined with the hard work of many others - created something so delicious. The party was a perfect end to an almost year-long experience that I couldn’t have had anywhere else in the world. I’m so lucky to call Fukushima home.