Monday, October 6, 2008


Tonight at 7pm (Higashikawa, Hokkaido, Japan time), we are meeting with our neighboring rice farmer and his bailer (the guy that makes the bales for him every year and then sells them off to people for other uses - I doubt anyone has bought them for building a house before). It's the meeting we've been "waiting" for on pins and needles. It's a big night for we'll find out many things tonight. We'll hopefully find out if they can provide the quantity that we need (about 800 square bales) and the quality that we need (tight bales with consistent dimensions). We'll probably get a price tonight and that should be....interesting. If it's too much, we may have to reconsider the "price" of using this eco friendly material. And, finally, we'll hopefully find out if the bailer has a place where we can store these bails until we need them next Summer (after we get the foundation and roof built so we can keep the bales protected from the rain on our own property). So, yes, it's going to be a big, big night for us and the above questions have been occupying my mind all day. I'll provide an update tomorrow (or soon).

By the way, I (Toby) went up to Asahidake, the tallest mountain in Hokkaido, yesterday. I wanted to see how much snow was up there so I climbed to the top.

I was greeted with a lot of snow, but not quite enough to do much skiing yet. It was all white at the top and I could barely see past my arms. The picture on the side here is from the summit post.

On my way back to Tohma-cho from the mountain, I drove through Higashikawa and saw that our farmer friend has been busy harvesting (if I were to guess, I'd say he's 1/2 - 2/3rds done) his rice and he's been cutting all of his straw into the long straw that we'll be needing. Maiko says he was planning on making long straw anyway so it's convenient for us. Above (the top of this post) and below are a few pictures from his rice paddies. The long straw laying on top of the fields is what we'll hopefully be using for our house. Of course, the bailer needs to make the nice, tight and consistent bails first....


Charles Hamel said...

I just could not resist writing a comment here and telling you how much of a huge connection that we have and don't even know each other. Let me start with this.. I have been interested in straw bale houses and solar power for a long time. My family and I recently moved (last March) to Shibinai (you have to pass through our town on the way to Asahidake (it's the last one). A friend of mine (Ben Logsdon ALT for Higashikagura) was over today when I told him I was building a website about solar panels, he told me he had a friend in Higashikawa that was building a straw bale house.

Today I get a Google Alert about a post with the subject of Hokkaido, and it led me to your Blog.

Could all be a big coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences.

I have a Japanese wife, who I have been married to for 18 years and 2 kids, one is attending Shibinai

I know the 2 story wood house that you have a pic of on your Blog, it's a Sweden House near the water park and is also a favorite of mine.

we need to get together some time when you have the time... We are, or will be only across the river from each other.

Contact me when you get a chance.

Arie and Yuki said...

I also could not resist. I don't have quite as much in common as Charles, but I did live in Ashahikawa for two years in the early 90's and my wife Yuki and I are finishing build our home in the woods just east of Seattle this year.

I've had 4 friends get lost on Asahidake in two separate incidents. If you ever run into Steve Greenhow of Makubetsu ask him about it. (Three days after a day hike gone wrong they found the body of another long lost hiker.)

Good luck with the house! I'm burned out after too many 70 hours weeks, but it will be over soon.

We did not build with straw, but we did go slab on grade with radiant heat in the concrete floors. There are numerous benefits here, we think it should be well worth the cost. We also are incorporating gabion walls.