Japan Silk Farming is rapidly disappearing!
By, Uwe Paschen.
I went to Nagano for 3 days to see a Good Friend of mine, There I attended a Silk Farmers meeting that reminded me some of the long late Farm Organisation meetings I used to attend in North America. The Problems are similar. Low prises, over production due to free trade with Asia and an ageing Farm population without any one to take over from the next Generation! The average age of the Farmer being 65 years old in some areas. Abandoned Farms States and over grown rice fields in many areas!
I ended up staying with Mister Horiuchi, Shinya, his wife Kitie Horiuchi and my friend Rie, Silk worm Farmer, as well as vegetable Farmers! The Silk Worm being their speciality there are some of the last traditional Japanese Silkworm Farmers operating and alive, since Shinya is already approaching his seventies and the last specialist of the Golden Silk worm, used mainly for traditional Japanese Kimonos, however also for the production of high quality contact lenses and skin replacement in accident victims!
I stayed with them in their village of Nakajo, about an Hour away from Nagano. High in the mountains, where fresh air and fresh water are still abundant.
I saw many abandoned Farms though and bear laying Rice Fields over grown by weeds and the forest taking back the one’s fertile land. Houses falling apart and school Houses being abandoned for lack of children living in the Country side!
The prices of fruits and vegetable slowly rising over the years, due to a lack of local Farmer producing them. I was told that in 10 to 15 years, Japan will no longer be able to supply it’s large city’s with food and have to rely on imports alone, wish for any nation and community is a dangerous thing to be dependent on, making one vulnerable and dependent. Especially with rising fuel cost and more and more transportation and political challenges around the World. Local Food production has always been and still is a key factor for peace and independence. Something that in the euphoria of World trade and Savage Capitalism is largely been ignored and down played. Nevertheless, Capitalism is now reaching its limits and may even collapse in the coming decades, as the Soviet Union did not so long ago! It has been naïve and dangerous of us to believe in exponential growth and disregarding the balance of Nature it self. Our modern society is based on credit and eternal Growth, wish is simply neither Logical nor feasible in the long run!
Unfortunately, we will only learn one’s it is to late since to few dare to see the warning signs and try to rebalance the system, wish will require some major restrictions on our part as consumers and excessive waist producer!
In Nakajo many things are still done the old way, for one Bath water is shared by the whole Family to preserve energy and resources, something I had to learn my self again!
Heat is being used only in restricted areas under a table covert up with blankets and to keep once Feed and legs warm. It is like my Uncles Farm in Germany used to be as I lived there as a Child for a vile! The Kitchen was the only warm place in the whole house! Even the Local stores where rather Cold and people just put on more close and used a small stove that was used to make tea to warm them self up! We need to go back to this type of conservation and let go of fashion trends and excessive comfort and luxuries! Nakajo can get rather cold, -10 or lower is the norm in the winter month, How ever I have not been more comfortable and well of for some time, as I have been in Nakajo! Buddha preached respect and compassion to all living things, whether they are Large or small. We may want to look at his teaching again!
I went to visit the temple in Nagano on my way back to Tokyo and spend sometime meditating there hopping to find the anthers or at least some of them to our global mess, we have managed to make in such a short time!
I will truly miss Nakajo and it’s wonderful people and the good friends I made there, and I hope I may be able to come back some time! Hopping that the Japanese Silk will still be there and well so we may still be able to have traditional Kimonos for many generations to come!
My stay in Nakajo with The Hiriuchi gave me much to think about! The passion, love and pride Shinia and Kitie had for their work, Farm and history was refreshing to see!
Something I can understand well, since I used to have the same passion, love and pride for my Sheep and our cheeses being made only with the best ingredient. Where the art and the quality of the product become more important than Money and profits!
It is what I Dreamed of for Zurich, motivating a town to make something of it self, involving every one in milking sheep and starting many small farms and a community owned Creamery to produce high quality cheeses. I am still convinced it would have been to the benefit of that Village of Zurich, just has Shinya is persuaded to be able to revive his dying Village and the Silkworm industry! I do hope he will succeed, because I know he does deeply care not only about the Silk, but also about his Village and especially about the people and their future and the next generation especially! What is life without the next generation taking over and being able to live as well as we did!?
Today we think just about profits and our self’s, for the most part any way and especially in the industrialised world of ours. How ever, does it mean anything at all? I think not!
What is life without passion, compassion and Love? Our material world cannot fulfil us or the suicide rates in our large City’s would not be as high as they are!
Our Family values are at the heard of every society and a society with out Family unity and with out Children and with out passion, pride, and Love before profits is doomed
To self-destruct. If it was not for People such as Shinya, Kitie and Rie still struggling to keep values alive, I believe our Post Industrial Material and consumer society’s would already have self destructed! Yet because of these few, they give many other still some hope even though they seem to remain paralyzed has to what they could do!
I am not sure at this point, what it will or would take to motivate people to move and change. To find meaning again as well as pride in what they do and are!
I know since I failed my self at motivating people even though the potential was there as well as the opportunities!
May it be Europe, North America or Japan the problems and symptoms of the illness of those societies are very similar as well as the causes! Soon even China and India will suffer the same fate if we cannot learn nor change and reform our self’s and our society, since we are the problem, how ever we are also the solution if we dare to take the lead!
Maybe repetitively if necessary!!
On the other hand who am I to talk, since I failed to start that flame in my own Children and Community in spite of relentless efforts!
We need to reinstate some sort of balance and values in our out of control system.