Japan is a country of repressed emotion. It’s one of those stereotypes that are actually accurate. Younger generations are working to change this by doing crazy things like hugging their partners and actually telling them that they love them, but there are some events to help older people express their feelings too. One of these events is the most inaka thing I can think of. It takes place in Tsumagoi, Gunma-ken and consists of…..walking up onto a platform and screaming at your partner (who is standing in or around the surrounding cabbage fields) about how much you love them. And isn’t that really what romance is all about?
Kyabe-chu is a play on the Japanese word for cabbage, kyabetsu (キャベツ), and the onomatopoeia for a kiss, chu (チュ). 2019 was the 14th annual Kyabe-chu event. Once a year, loving couples converge on a specific hill that’s quite literally in the middle of cabbage fields. The hill is called Aisai no Oka (愛妻の丘), which translates to “the beloved wife’s hill.” Which is just….awww (✿´ ꒳ ` )
The process of Kyabe-chu is simple. You (traditionally the loving husband but a few women go up too) sign up when you come to the hill. The announcer calls your name and asks you who you’re proclaiming your love for, then the crowd helpfully finds that person and shoves them to the front. You walk up onto the platform and observe the stunning panoramic scene of cabbages as far as the eye can see. Then you take a deep breath and….yell. It’s a building up kind of a yell. You start with some chat, like how long you’ve been married, or how you’re grateful for your wife’s telepathy skills to always know when you had a bad day at work and need a cold beer (this was actually what one guy said). Then you move up to the real scream: [Name of partner] 愛してるよううううう!!!!
Heart Cabbage Field Project
The farmers of Tsumagoi also work to contribute to the feeling of love on Aisai no Oka by growing a field of cabbages in the shape of the heart. Kyabe-chu participants can take one of the heart cabbages home to….fill their souls with cabbage-y love?
Members of the project also supply the event with cabbage themed food, some more questionable than others. You have some normal things, like minestrone soup with cabbage, or sandwiches with cabbage.
Then there are….the questionable items. This year’s treats included a yogurt mousse with cabbage powder jelly, cabbage ice cream, and mini choux creams made with cabbage powder. Being the brave soul that I am, I decided it was my duty to sample some of these concoctions.
As you can see, I had some severe doubts about how brave I really was once I actually had the cabbage-y items in hand. I sampled the cabbage mousse and the cabbage ice cream. The cabbage mousse actually wasn’t bad. It was a sweet, thick yogurt with the cabbage jelly on top. I mostly just tasted the yogurt with a weird, vaguely vegetable-y aftertaste. The cabbage ice cream, on the other hand….it wasn’t great. The cream wasn’t vanilla, instead just plain and sweet with an odd aftertaste. That was manageable. The bad part was the cabbage flecks frozen into ice cream. Ugh. They were horrible. Never again -2/10.
Did you hear me?
I took the opportunity to be one of only 3 women who screamed out their love at Kyabe-chu, and the only one to be yelling at a spouse that wasn’t actually present. I told the story of how I had been married for only one month, and I was waiting on the visa process to be reunited with my husband, then I screamed out a bunch of stuff in English. Apparently the prefectural news station was in awe of my love story and came to interview me afterwards. They asked me if I thought my husband heard my scream of “I love you!” all the way in America and I said he had definitely heard it. And then they didn’t use any of my interview on the evening news. That’s just how it goes sometimes ¯\(ツ)/¯
EDIT: Gunma TV (GTV) piece about Kyabe-chu, for which my glorious interview was not included キャベツ畑の中心で「愛してるよ～！」 群馬・嬬恋村(19/09/08)
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in our guest’s blog, Linka Learns Things. Thanks Linka for sharing this great article!