Thursday, January 28, 2010
Both my paternal and maternal grandparents immigrated from Japan to Brazil with their family members in early 1930’s to settle in Sao Paulo State to work as a labor for big coffee farmers. Until mid-40’s, they still planned to go back to their country. The end of war in Japan brought economic crises which made the whole Japanese community to change their minds and adopted Brazil as their country in which the children would grow up as citizens. Most families bought a few acres of unexplored area of wooded land to clear it by saws and axes to later plant coffee. Many Japanese families gradually left the rural setting, but still a very few of them bravely work on the land like my father. He is almost 78 years old, of that, 78 years living on, from and for the land.
In this backdrop, I was born in a little town of 30,000 people and was raised on the farm along with my older brother and younger sister.
Our farm was run in a very commercial way on a dual activity: coffee and egg farm. The coffee trees neatly followed a contour line on a boring view and white Leghorn chickens were caged in long batteries. Our farm was devoided of any romantic aspect. No creeks, no ponds, no waterfalls, therefore no fish, ducks, geese, or else. No mountains, no rolling hills, no forests. No wild animals, no beautiful birds or butterflies. We didn’t have the little farm tradition of raising multi-colored free-range chicken, smart goats, cute sheep, lazy horses, or even pigs. We never milked a cow. My mother wouldn’t bake breads in a mud brick oven or cook on a wood burning stove. She never made sausages from freshly slaughtered pig or harvested crispy lettuces. We bought everything on a local farmer’s market. Even the broiled chicken would come from the grocery store. For the longest time, I dreamed of self-sufficient, self-sustainable farm. I swore to myself to come back to the country by the age of 50 to start writing. I am a few years early.
None of the Japanese children was really raised to follow their parents’ footsteps and continue farming. This way, I got a degree in Social Science, lived in Sao Paulo city, worked at a newspaper until I moved to the USA in 1990’s.
I lived in California and Florida for over 16 years. There, I learned not only English but all about alternative lifestyle, holistic health, ecology, organic farming. I have read books on country living, back to the land, plain life, back to basics. Due to series of life happenings, I moved back to my country of origin. Firstly, I lived at a resort town and led a dreamlike life (more on that later) until realizing that it was not leading me anywhere but to consumerism of a touristic town and city lifestyle. My life seemed to be incredibly artificial, not too different from a suburban life somewhere in America. My daughter was not learning through experience anything substantial. Last December, I packed and moved back to my parents’ farm I had left 28 years earlier.
This is my journal – a reporting from the farm. A real back-to-the-land adventure.