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Social Interaction

Matsutake harvesters are comprised of a vide variety of nationalities, cultures, backgrounds, personalities, morals, spirits, goals, needs, environmental education, and harvest experience. Not to exclude other characteristics that comprise who we are as individuals. Social interaction, during harvest, is based primarily in each individuals need, or combination of needs, for harvest.

To understand harvester interaction, knowledge of how these variables combine and manifest during harvest is needed.

Matsutake harvesting is first influenced by personal goal for harvest. Monetary gain is usually stated as the primary. However a closer look indicates many personal goals also achieved.

The thrill of the hunt, least mentioned by most, yet a large number of harvesters enjoy hunting nearly as much as monetary gain. The ability to locate and harvest brings a sense of accomplishment and pride. The experience can be as rewarding as the cash return.

Vacation harvesters are little known, but do comprise a portion of harvesters. The majority are of Asian decent. Asian harvesters come from several different countries and walks of life. Some from cities, and some from country life. Forest foraging was a way of life to many. It is no longer necessary for them to search the forest for food or income, but the need to return is often expressed as a vacation to harvest matsutake.

The family goes matsi hunting. Individuals usually accompany a relative who regularly harvests. American harvesters see these groups as intimidating, or at least overwhelming. Social structure of Asian families are little understood. All family members are obligated to help other family members. The result is often 5-8 harvesters vacationing much the same as an American family on a week camping trip.

Transient harvesters comprise the largest harvester block. Traveling from area to area in search of fruiting. Primary goal is monetary gain. Most know of areas of fruiting in many communities. Areas are systematically searched for fruit, usually only once. In most cases these areas are known to the general public. New areas are rarely found. Some Veteran pickers also travel. Keeping the places they pick secret in the communities they visit.

Local harvesters goals are primarily monetary, but also spiritual and recreational rewards are attained. Fruiting areas and habits of fruiting are known. Areas are checked and harvested throughout the fruiting period. Local harvesters develop a sense of ownership of the area they harvest, often feeling somehow violated when others appear.


Interviews with harvesters of all types have indicated two main areas of interest, number of harvesters and harvest method. Harvest method is of the highest priority  to all. Many social conflicts are attributed to numbers hunting and  harvest method.

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