We’ve been hopping from field to field all morning and now have a colorful array of natsu yasai (summer vegetables) loaded in the back of our kei truck. It’s scorching outside and will only continue to get hotter as we approach midday, so we’re heading back to the “office” for a snack. The latest batch of amazake (sweet rice drink) is sitting in the fridge, awaiting our arrival.

I’m interning at Hiruzen Kougei, a shizen-saibai (natural cultivation) farm located in the small village of Chuka, Okayama Prefecture. Its makeshift office is spread over the ground floor of Kudo, a farmhouse-cum-restaurant where special events with guest chefs and craftspeople are held throughout the year. Kudo is also my home for the next month or so. There’s a futon laid out for me on the second floor, and I’m told I have free rein of the kitchen. It makes for quite the bachelor pad. Adorning one of the counters is a “d design travel” plaque — an award given by one of Tokyo’s most stylish homeware stores. It’s pretty impressive for a place that was renovated on a shoestring budget and had no walls or ceiling to speak of before that.