The church started experimental rice cultivation on a small plot in Shiga prefecture in 1962. The following year Mrs. Yukiko Isa of Iwakura, Kyoto, offered to let the church use her 11.3-are field. As of April 1998, Reimei Church maintains four experimental rice paddies (Iwakura and Kameoka, Kyoto prefecture; Ritto and Yasu, Shiga prefecture), two dry fields (Yamashina, Kyoto city), and two mulberry fields (Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture; Iwakura), and a tea plantation in Kyotanabe, Kyoto prefecture.
Meanwhile, several members undertook projects on their own, using nature farming methods to cultivate part or all of their wet and dry fields. There are now five such fields in Kyoto prefecture and two in Fukui prefecture.
In 1974, Dr. Hiroshi Hasegawa, a leading authority on crop science and professor emeritus of Kyoto University, began extensive research on the Ritto paddy that had been cultivated without any artificial substances, manure, or compost since 1951. Mobilizing his colleagues on the faculty of agriculture and students at Kinki University, Prof. Hasegawa made regular, periodic examinations of the soil, water, plant growth, resilience to disease, and many other aspects, using an adjacent paddy as a contrast field. Interim reports were published in Japanese in Kinki University's faculty bulletin 1978. (An English summary of the reports appears in Appendix II of Johrei: Divine Light of Salvation.)
After the ten-year research project was completed, the church staff continued the study under Dr. Hasegawa's supervision. Now Prof. Shiro Takeuchi of Kinki University supervises our agricultural research. Beginning in 1977, we have also been conducting research on our vegetable and wheat fields in Yamashina, Kyoto. Prof. Mutsuo Sasaki of Tottori University is an advisor on our wheat cultivation. Once every year the church exhibits samples of grains, vegetables, and silk produced by its members.
Non-manured paddy fields in foreground unaffected by the 1982 blight; compare with adjacent manured fields in back.