Rice cultivation experience held in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture! Many employees' children and local residents participated.
Experiencing Traditional Rice Farming
In Moriyama in Shiga Prefecture, Group employees, their families and local residents have experienced traditional rice farming--including planting and harvesting--through hands-on sessions held by the Group since 2007. About 100 people participated in each of the sessions this year. Moriyama and the rest of the Koto Plain in eastern Shiga Prefecture is known as one of the primary rice-growing regions in Western Japan. During the rice planting held in May 2018, participants planted rice by hand according to traditional methods. The children who participated enjoyed the feeling of the rice paddies under their bare feet, and carefully planted each bundle of seedlings while getting covered in mud. As a new initiative in 2018, we created and distributed to participants a booklet that would enable them to learn about rice through photos and quizzes, creating an opportunity for them to gain knowledge as well as hands-on experience with rice farming. Comments from participants included, "The mud was warmer and stickier than I expected, but it felt good," and "It was a good use of our day off, giving the kids a good experience in nature." The number of participants from Moriyama is growing year by year. After the planting, the carefully-nurtured rice will be harvested in September. Unfortunately, in 2018 this event was cancelled due to rainy weather. In previous years, a separate rice harvesting experience has been held in which participants use sickles to cut the rice, then hang it on drying racks (known as hasagake*). At first the children struggle to cut the rice with their sickles, but by the time the event ends they seem to have gotten the hang of it, cutting smoothly through the rice stalks. Each year, the expansive rice paddy is emptied in no time.
*Hasagake: The process of hanging bundles of rice or other grains on poles to be dried in the sun.
About 1,140 Kilos of Hikyaku-mai Given to Participants and Employees
The rice harvested in FY2018 totaled about 1,140 kilos. The rice was the Kinuhikari variety, grown primarily in Western Japan, and known for its soft stickiness and light texture. The new rice, milled by the farmers, was named Hikyaku-mai after the SG Holdings Group. Each participant received two kilos, delivered by Sagawa Express door-to-door delivery service. A Hikyaku-mai campaign was also held for Group employees, with the delicious new rice sent to 100 employees nationwide, chosen by drawing.
Aspirations Behind the Rice Farming Experience
As a logistics company that uses a large number of vehicles that emit CO2, the Group is working in a variety of ways to reduce its environmental impact, and we believe that educating the next generation about the environment is an important initiative in that effort. The Group's connection with Moriyama runs deep, as the city is the site of Moriyama Park, the athletic field where we hold our annual sports festival, as well as the Sagawa Art Museum, a public interest foundation. We thus began these hands-on rice farming lessons in the hopes of contributing in some way to the next generation here in Moriyama. Rice is something we eat every day, which makes this initiative a familiar one to us. With the cooperation of the city and local farmers, we will continue to hold these events, which enable children to develop an attachment to nature through hands-on rice farming, something they would not normally have a chance to experience.