In Japan, there’s an outfit for everything: mountain hikers wear fleece skirts or shorts with leggings; stay-at-home mothers and grandmothers let people know they’re doing the housework by wearing aprons; and male farmers can be identified by their durable light grey jackets and trousers. In a clearly delineated world of designated dress for workplaces and activities, anyone deviating away from the norm is sure to stand out, and when you’re a man who wears a business suit to work in the rice fields, you can expect to receive local and international media attention.
Kiyoto Saito, who hails from a family that boasts 400 years of farming tradition, is the star of a new clip on YouTube from Zoomin.TV Amazing, who dubs him the “world’s best dressed farmer” due to his unusual choice of workwear.
The 16th generation rice farmer left his rural hometown in Yamagata Prefecture to live and work in the city when he was younger, only to return later in order to start a family. After Saito’s brother joked that the city slicker would probably wear a suit all day in the rice fields, Saito took the idea seriously, and has been dressing up in suits and ties ever since.
Saito’s Twitter account shows the farmer dressed up in a number of stylish outfits while working on the farm.
While his suits have been drawing attention to himself and his family business at Kabura Farm, Saito is also taking this opportunity to make farming seem more fun and appealing to the younger generation. As the video says, his next goal is to “make fashionable farming go viral.”
With a large number of Japan’s agricultural workers advancing in age, Saito’s appeal to the younger generation is one that’s been taken up by a number of other organisations, with one farm recently making news for appealing to troubled youth and another company releasing high-end agricultural wear for the younger generation. As long as people like the amicable Saito remain on the frontlines of the agricultural charm offensive, hopefully more and more young people will be encouraged to get involved in the free-spirited and interesting world of Japanese farming.
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