Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Looking back, I think I started a barnyard series without realizing it. Many more of my etegami besides the ones posted here were inspired by farm animals. There's something comforting about these creatures. I don't know why that would be. I wasn't raised on a farm. But I think I would have liked it.
During my high school years, I worked as a volunteer for two weeks out of each summer on small dairy farms in southern Hokkaido. Unskilled, and stupid-but-eager, high school students like myself volunteered their labor to help struggling farmers start from scratch, beginning with the burning off of stubborn and ungrazeable bamboo grass to make way for grass and hay.
When the time came to harvest the hay, we did everything by hand and horse-drawn truck bed. None of the young farmers could afford machinery back then. And the wilderness they were converting to pasture land was all hills, steep enough that machines couldn't have climbed the slopes anyway. The main industry in the area was fisheries, and the coastal hills had never been cultivated.
Hokkaido is famous for the wide open plains that farmers in Japan's main islands drool over, and it didn't make sense for this first wave of graduates from the Dairy College near Sapporo to choose this impossibly hilly part of the prefecture for establishing a foothold. Well, they had their reasons, which I won't go into here. And they were reasons that I believed in, which was why I was there.
The etegami are displayed in my most recent hand-painted frames. The etegami are also for sale.