Our lovely friends Tomomi and Yoshii were talking about how they harvest sweet potatoes in October when we went hiking with them over a month ago. Alex, Laurel and I were all excited about it and kept bringing it up and asking them to go. They couldn't really understand why. It's work, after all and just something they do out of obligation to the family. They thought there was a million cooler things we could be doing than harvesting sweet potatoes on a weekend day, but we insisted they let us join in on helping out some weekend.
The first weekend of November was the last day of harvesting and we were lucky enough that they amused us by allowing us to come. I'm pretty sure they left the smallest most insignificant patch for us to "work" on, but it was still a total blast! I wish we could've helped out more.
First we went to Yoshii's parents house, where they store all the potatoes. As you can see, they already had the majority of 'em picked.
I'd never seen a Japanese sweet potato before. This one was especially gnarly.
Grandma and the girls (Yoshii's 3 nieces) show us how it's done. Tomomi's explaining to me how you know whether the potato's a keeper or not.
Check out the video at the bottom to see it in action!
After putting the potatoes in the bins, we had to load 'em up into the truck to go back up to Yoshii's parents house. And by we, I mean Alex. I pretty much sat on the machine thingy the whole time and sorted through the potatoes as they came up the conveyor belt. It was so much fun - it felt like that "bop the head" game at Chucky Cheese's - but instead of bopping, you're pulling out sweet potatoes!
We stopped about halfway through for a mid morning snack. They had beverages and the most delicious grapes ever all prepared for us! What sweethearts.
You can see how massive they are here. Mmmm. It's weird, but even grapes are much different here. I've only seen red grapes in the grocery store, and they're SUPER expensive (about $5 for one small bundle). Grandma got them from her neighbors - within their little community group they farm potatoes, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes and cabbage and then share with each other. The grapes come in these big sized ones, medium sized, and mini concord grapes. I always thought the sugary grape taste of like fun dip and suckers and medicine was fake and tasted nothing like real grapes... but it does taste like grapes - the Japanese mini concord ones! Anyway, the inside just literally pops out of the skins when you bite them. You can see Emi in the back just popping the inside out into her mouth. I'm not sure what the reason is, but I have yet to see Japanese eat the skins on fruits. They cut it off of apples and pears, and throw out the skins of grapes.
Alex with camera in hand, capturing all the best moments.
I think Shooma was jealous what with all the delicious grape eating... he must have been pretty disappointed in this dirty plastic bin.
Trying on Grandma's hat for size - too cute!
Tri-pod action = group shot!
Then we headed over to the field that Yoshii was working on. He was tilling the field that had been finished harvesting last weekend.
Yessss!!! I get to try out the tractor! It was just like mowing the lawn at home (which I love, by the way. No joke), except WAY slower and without my tunes to drown out the obnoxiously loud engine. Gorgeous day though.
Tomomi and Shooma...
and literally 5 min after I took that photo, I took this one. This is my favorite kid in Japan, hands down! He can be a little fussy at times, but he's way too entertaining to ever be really upset with.