What have I gotten myself into? After waking up this morning and having a nice cup of coffee, we heard a bit of rustling and commotion from outside our cabin. Winding her way through the steep pathways that lead to the back of our little yard was an Obaa-chan – one of the ‘grandmothers’ of Mikura, kind of like the village elders. Apparently she is the owner of a little vegetable garden that abuts our cottage. After taking one look at me, she handed me some bamboo poles and instructed me to drive them into the ground next to some baby eggplants that were peeking up through the soil. I was informed that this was now my garden and I was responsible for the care of these plants. I would need to tie the shoots to the poles when they were large enough (not too tight!) and weed on a regular basis. She said that she was not coming back, so it was all up to me! After they were fully grown, I would be more than welcome to eat the eggplants. It was certainly a surreal way to start the day. I went from sleepy American scientist to traditional Japanese gardener in the blink of an eye.