Working outside at a community vegetable garden in suburban Tokyo on a sunny Saturday morning in early autumn, Ikuko Fujishiro is in her element. People of all ages are engaged in various tasks, but the vibe is decidedly relaxed and there is plenty of chatting mixed in with the work.

With time on her hands after pivoting to working from home because of the pandemic, Fujishiro accepted a friend’s invitation to help harvest potatoes last June. Grateful for the chance to take a break from her laptop, she has been visiting the shared plot in her neighborhood once or twice a week ever since.

“So far, I’ve experienced tilling the field, planting seeds, weeding, and harvesting rice and vegetables — all of which were new to me,” Fujishiro says with a smile. “I’ve lived in Tokyo, Kobe, London and Shanghai, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do any farming before. I feel relaxed and fulfilled when spending time in the garden.”