/23 Japan

Rinko Kawauchi


I had a dream—I think it was probably six or seven years ago. I remembered the dream clearly because the internal scene was so powerful, so beautiful it was almost scary. About six months later, as I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain—a place called Aso. I immediately typed “Aso” into an Internet search engine, to learn that it is a town in southern Japan, one of the regions where yakihata takes place—controlled agricultural burning, in which fields are burned in advance of planting. I had always been interested in yakihata and had long wanted to witness this farming ritual. With these two key words having lined up, I decided that I had to go. That was in 2007. I found out that yakihata takes place every year in March, and so I first visited Aso in March of 2008.