Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rice Harvest

rice harvest 1

The rice harvest has been underway for a few weeks now. Mostly it's done on weekends or holidays, as most rice farmers have full time jobs doing something else. Some people use combine harvesters that cut the rice and strip the grain in one operation, and some just cut the rice and let it dry.

rice harvest 2

Temporary drying racks made from Giant Bamboo are a common sight now.

rice harvest 4

In a village up in the mountains near Iwami Ginzan, the farmers build an unusual support to hold the drying rice. people come from all over to photograph it.

rice harvest 3

The rice is taken to the mill building that every settlement has. The motors hum non-stop for weeks as the rice is hulled. Behind the shed the rice husks collect into piles. The husks are used as mulch in our vegetable gardens.

It is often said that Japan's grossly ineffecient rice harvest is funded by the LDP as a way of wooing the rural vote - a rural vote can be worth 3 or 4 city votes-, but I think there is another reason. The money the farmers receive doesnt stay with the farmers, it ends up in the coffers of the zaibatsu. Rice farming is completely mechanized, with every farmer owning many pieces of equipment, often only used once a year. As well as the equipment manufacturers, the chemical companies also make a fortune as Japanese farmers use a LOT of chemicals.


  1. Ojisanjake,

    I like the points you make concerning the rice price supports--and the centralized role that rice has come to play in the POST-WAR period. As a population, the Japanese haven't been eating rice regularly for long.

    If you get a chance take a look at the following article by McDonald where she examines the post-war land reform from the perspective of the central government and its contradictory needs to promote economic growth while maintaining its constituency of small-scale farmers.

    Her main thesis is that the LDP has preserved some of the principles of land reform while gradually re-regulating agricultural land to allow for new capital formation both external and internal to agriculture. She concludes that the LDP has worked its way slowly towards a new constituency by appeasing expansionist voices from urban areas while promoting a switch to producer focused (rather than household) landholding in the key rural areas.

    McDonald, M. G. 1997. Agricultural Landholding in Japan: Fifty Years After Land Reform. Geoforum 28:55-78.

    I can send you a pdf of the article if you'd like.



  2. Yes please send me the pdf. Thanks in advance...:)