I’d like to occasionally introduce some of the tools we use here on the farm, in the garden, and in the restaurant. Let’s start with the weed cutting machine.
Now with fairly warm temperatures, intense sunlight, and high humidity, the weeds around here grow like children. As such, your dad’s string-twirling electric plug-in weed cutter isn’t going to wack it. We need something that will cut through branches, that won’t give up in thickets of long grass, that will bounce off hidden rocks with a smile. We need (you may have guessed already) a powerful 2-stroke gasoline engine attached to a shaft-driven naked spinning saw blade!
This awesome machine is called a 草刈機 (kusakariki), or weed cutting machine. With such raw spinning power, there’s no need to pussyfoot around with fancy model names, so no matter which brand or model you buy, it’s called the same thing.
It’s pretty basic, with a centrifugal clutch that drives the blade at anything higher than an idle but lets go if it runs into something that it can’t get through. If that happens, chances are you can just back off, increase the throttle, and give it another go—you’ll be cutting to Calcutta before you can say ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’
Safety features include a shoulder strap that reliably keeps the blade away from your body if you fall down. That’s it. The rest is up to you.
Typical of Japan, you’ll see many people riding around on bicycles with these, though maybe not exactly like this.
The purpose of heavy weed removal around the rice fields, by the way, is to prevent insects from getting too comfortable in close proximity to the rice. By removing their habitat we can protect the crop.
Today we also removed the vinyl top from the rice tunnels, and replaced it with a shade-providing net. After three days with the net we’ll remove that, too, to accustom the sprouts to full sunlight. They get planted within the week!