Mori Family

It’s difficult to find hotels between towns in this area. My friend Takashi recommended a B&B farm house  between Minamisoma and Soma, and that’s where I went. My first night in the field. I was greeted by Mrs. Mori and her mother. I knew from that moment I was in the right place. They were extremely kind and cheerful. I told them I had walked here and showed granny the map on my iPhone, like a little boy proudly displaying his toy. She was amazed and said I was smart. I couldn’t understand her at all, though. The Tohoku accent was so thick. Mrs. Mori had to translate it to regular Japanese to me, which was a language I needed translation to start with.



Mrs. Mori knew how to speak to a foreigner, very slowly, with each intonation clearly spelled out. I felt I can understand her even with words I don’t know. Despite that, I was a little nervous about having dinner with them. My Japanese will be tested. Will they be uncomfortable? Well, we ended up drinking and chatting for 2 and a half hours.


Mr. Mori is probably in his 50s. Compared to Mrs. Mori, he’s more cautious in the beginning. But he was too curious about me, and soon brought his Shochu (Japanese liquor) and sat next to me. We started talking, about everything. The family has been farming rice organically for 30 years. They hand pulled the weeds and didn’t use chemicals. Tsunami marched inland for 4 kilometers and flooded his land. The farm was prohibited from growing since then due to radiation hazard. They live 34 kilometers northwest of the nuclear power plant. I pulled out my Geiger counter and it’s the same level as Tokyo or Bloomington. Mori was frustrated about the regulation. He thought people in Tokyo were paranoid. You can tell he took prize in his crops. They used to produce 20 tons of rice each year. Despite the uncertainty, they are eager to start growing next year when the ban is lifted.



Mrs. Mori seems to handle most the B&B practice. I found out she was invited to speak at B&B conferences in the area. The practice provided modest income in difficult time. They were actually featured in numerous TV programs (including one from Hong Kong) and local farmer’s newspaper. They are more excited about their son’s wedding, though, which is next week! We continued on topics about my family, our common friend Takashi, ariel photo of the farm taken 20 years ago, Taiwan-China politics, panda, and more. When it got complicated we used Kanji to communicate. It always worked well in my experience.



The dinner was a feast. I told Mrs. Mori it was like great restaurant food, then she kept bringing out more dishes. Everything was well prepared. The breakfast was delicious, too. I’ve never had clam miso soup and it cured my hangover. They eventually sent me off with a Bento. I didn’t want to leave.





Japanese translation by Kurumi Kido   日本語訳:城戸 久瑠実

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