Part of the list of chores is to harvest cycled vegetable crops which have managed to grow and mature through the Winter season. This includes crops of Chinese cabbage, lettuce and onions.
In the case of Chinese cabbage, the crops often look quite beaten and damaged after being grown without cover or protection in the full freeze of Winter’s snow and frost .
The damage is however, only skin deep. This is because earlier in the season, the farmers bound each individual developing plant with string to ensure the inner bulk of the plant grows to become extremely dense.
The binding reduces the amount of freezing air that can enter the deeper leaf layers and helps keep the core somewhat warmer.
Despite the yellow, decimated appearance of crops before harvest, the frost and cold damage is usually limited to only the first few outer layers of leaves.
During the harvest process, the brown layers of the vegetable are cut away and the inner crisp green and white leaves are revealed. After harvest, the produce is carefully boxed and taken to community wholesale auction centers where it is sold to willing buyers and then distributed to supermarkets and green grocers across Japan.
Many smaller farms in Japan are owned by individual families and the harvest, being completely by hand, is an important combined family effort. Each family member receives their responsibility and allocated job in the harvest process. Someone removes binding strings, someone cuts the plant from the ground, someone cuts and removes leaves, someone boxes the vegetable and packs the truck.