Over the last couple of weeks, the main areas of high, dry grass surrounding farming plots were burnt away. (That blog story is here.) With Spring close-by, that burning off is done in tandem with another important job. The soil of the fields and dry rice paddies are dry tilled and flattened.
With Japan having four very distinct and different seasons, the cold of Winter usually comes to a very abrupt finish, at which time the air is filled with a sudden warmth. This change quickly turns Japan into a very different place. Once the Spring air arrives, there is usually little or no turning back. Plants greet the long awaited warmth with an explosion of growth and any crops that are not in the ground (or in the water in the case of rice paddies), get left behind!
Tilling over-turns the low level, dried grasses that have grown over the paddies and plots; loosens the crusty soil and flattens the land so it is again ready for re-flooding with water and/or re-planting.
Cultivatable plots of land in Japan tend to be divided into relatively small areas. Rice paddies and other farm plots are usually only a matter of 20-100m in length or so. In some cases, even smaller. Machinery therefore also needs to be small scale so it is maneuverable.
While the plots are small, there are a lot of them! With the new season fast approaching, there is a sense of urgency in the air. Both rice paddies and vegetable fields swarm with tractors urgently buzzing around with tilling equipment attached. Spring is just around the corner. There is no time to waste.