Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A relaxed day out with hubby

On 23rd May, hubby and I went to Akita city to do our weekend shopping. Later hubby practiced golf in a golf driving range. On our way to Akita city we saw that farmers were busy planting rice saplings in the farm fields. Akita is an agriculture oriented prefecture with acres and acres of farming land. The rice planting season in the prefecture is from the beginning through the middle of May. Rice is a difficult crop to cultivate, mainly because saplings have to be first grown into pallets in nurseries (culture) and then the rice saplings of about 12 cm length are transferred and planted in the field generally by using a rice-planting tractor. Some farmers with relatively small fields manually sow the rice saplings using a hand hoe, although this is very rare in Akita prefecture.

We came across many rice fields during our car ride to Akita city. All the farm fields were well irrigated and the water was knee deep. Almost everywhere rice saplings were already planted but a few farmers seemed to be still busy. Somewhere on our way to Akita city, hubby stopped the car and we enjoyed watching a farmer use a tractor to plant rows and rows of rice saplings. It was really an amazing and breathtaking experience. The sight of little green rice plants sticking out of flooded fields was a wonder to behold.
Farmers tending to irrigation system in rice field

Rice-planting tractor

A farmer planting rice saplings using a tractor

A farmer manually sowing rice saplings

Our home is surrounded by farm fields. In fact in the beginning of May during my usual evening walk as I passed the rice fields there was a distinct tinkle and gurgle which could be heard as water flowed from irrigation channels into and out of each field. Nowadays during the walks, I enjoy seeing the fresh green color of the growing rice saplings, which is very peaceful and pleasing to the eyes.

After enjoying the green rice fields, hubby and I did our weekend shopping. After that we went to a public golf practice driving range named Akita Greenhill golf renshu-jyo in Akita city. I am not much interested in the sport but hubby is crazy about golf. Nowadays almost every weekend he either practices golf in the driving range or plays a game with his office colleagues at a real course.

Golf is a very popular sport in Japan. Golf membership fees are extremely high as space for golf courses is limited. However, there are public driving ranges throughout the country where golf lovers can practice. These driving ranges are big constructions that are wrapped in large green nets. We can see these cage-like constructions everywhere in Japan, even in the middle of cities. Often balls can be played from two or more floors in order to allow a greater number of players to practice at the same time. These golf practice grounds are known as ‘gorufu renshu-jyo’ and are commonly called uchippanashi which means ‘just hit it’. Players keep hitting balls from the tee stations to the far side of the cage. Nets surrounding the cage ensure that the balls stay inside the driving range even if the golfers hit really hard or make wild shots.

Akita Greenhill golf practice ground was relatively small in size and was surrounded by a huge net. Whenever we go to this automated golf practice driving range, hubby becomes fully engrossed in practicing golf while I would sit, observe, and amaze at how Japan makes use of super advanced technology in every field of life. This practice driving range has many automatic services that are really wonderful. There was a big dispenser machine for golf balls where balls could be purchased. Hubby swiped an electronic money card and balls fell out of a slot in the machine, which were collected into a basket placed near the slot. These balls were then put into a small automated dispenser box near the Astroturf mat at the tee station where hubby practiced his shots. When a button in the dispenser box was switched on, an arm carrying a ball came out of the box and automatically placed the ball right on the top of the golf tee that was fixed to the Astroturf matting, and then the arm retracted back into the box. After every hit, the arm came out and placed the ball exactly on the top of the tee. During our trips to the golf practice range, usually hubby would be very busy practicing all his shots using various clubs like pitching wedge, driver shots, and many more (I do not really have much idea), and I would be literally watching the arm of the dispenser box come out with immense regularity and place the balls perfectly with great precision on the top of the tee. Believe me, I am completely spellbound and would watch until all the balls were played. Although I am a researcher in semiconductor technology Physics (now taking a break for few years), yet seeing advanced technology being put into actual use in almost every aspect of life in Japan really amazes me even after twelve years of staying here.
Hubby preparing for golf practice

Hubby putting golf balls into an automated dispenser box

Hubby practicing golf using a pitching wedge club

Hubby having sports drink

Hubby practicing golf using a driver club

Tired hubby

I compiled a video of hubby practising golf.


Banashree said...

Had a nice feeling while reading thru your post. Specially, the rice planting process. Its really soothing to one's eyes. I'm sure you both must have loved it a lot. Thanx for posting such a wonderful thing with beautiful pictures.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment Banashree. Yeah, it was really interesting to watch rice planting process. Last year I saw for the first time the entire process of rice making; from planting to harvesting.

I moved to Akita about two years back and love this place and its wonderful natural beauty. I am learning something new everyday here in the countryside.