When I cuddled sweet potatoes on my lap

The autumn when I was five years old, my kindergarten teachers took us to a local sweet potato farm for a “harvest” experience. The whole kindergarten (it was a small one) rented a bus and travelled to the farm located somewhere in the outskirt of my hometown.

What I remember about the farm is that it was very vast. As I got off the bus and sat with other children to listen to the instruction of the farm owner, I thought to myself what a huge farm it was compared to my maternal grandmother’s vegetable garden, which was the only farm I had known at the time.

After listening to the instruction, we went into the farm and each of us harvested a few sweet potatoes from the ground using a scop and our hands. Then, a fire was made with coals and a lot of dried leaves, and the farm owner placed some fresh sweet potatoes in the fire to make what’s called in Japanese yaki imo, baked sweet potatoes. We all sat around the fire in a circle, and once the potatoes were cooked, we ate them, laughing and exclaiming how hot and delicious the potatoes were.

Just before leaving the farm, the farm owner gave us the sweet potatoes that we had earlier picked from the ground as souvenirs. Each of us were given two sweet potatoes as we got on the bus to go back home.

On our way back home, I remember sitting at the very front seat on my own with two plump sweet potatoes on my lap. Our teacher put on some movie on the TV screen inside the bus so that we could enjoy our bus journey, but I didn’t pay attention to the movie at all. I was so happy to have my two plump sweet potatoes on my lap that I was busy cuddling them. And after a while, I fell asleep with a smile of satisfaction on my face.