Potato diggers, Japanese school kids’ Oimohori (potato digging)

Written by on November 3, 2009 in My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 3 Comments

I made this short video featuring my kids’ outdoors school digging potatoes. Digging potatoes in the Fall is part of the rhythm of life for Japanese kids, but I think this group does it with style. I’ve always liked the way they relate and work together, something that the teacher cultivates starting in preschool until they finish the outdoors school after the sixth grade. Years ago we saw a group of kids from the school playing together and noticed how the boys and girls were getting along so well. That really go our attention. I guess you’d have to see how Japanese kids play  and relate to understand (e.g., groups of boys all sitting around each with his own Nintendo DS, groups of girls nearby checking cell phones for email). Anyway, you can click to watch in HD if your connection is fast enough. Leave a comment with your thoughts below.

About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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  • Diane

    I love this! I love little glimpses of everyday life in Japan. This post made my morning! 🙂

    Just wondering, what are the kids saying at the end? Did you ask them a question?

  • They are saying things about potato digging and what they enjoyed about it:

    – Taking out potatoes was fun
    – …because we can eat good tasting potatoes
    – Digging was fun
    – Potatoes are buried so searching for them is nice
    – I like that there’s lots of dirt, bugs, and nature

    Sorry for not providing subtitles, but that would have taken a lot more time.

    BTW, potato digging is typical, but this group is unique. Normally you wouldn’t see kids dressed like this (it’s the “uniform” that has evolved in this group). Also, some people have asked me if they really work together so well without fighting. Yes, they do. Most of these kids have been together since preschool, and the teacher (in the video) has worked hard to create this type of environment. That doesn’t mean these kids do equally well in other groups and situations. Still, I think it’s great that they experience it in this one.

  • Sue

    What beautiful children–and potatoes! I think I’ll share this with my English conversation group tomorrow. Thank you!