Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Manhole Rice


The most common motif by far  used in the designs on manhole covers in japan is the cherry blossom. Considering the central place occupied by rice in Japanese identity it is surprising that it does not appear more often than it does. This first one is from Mizuho up in the mountains near where Iwami meet Hiroshima.


I found this second one in the village of Koshita south of Usa in northern Kyushu.


Also in northern Kyushu, but on the opposite side in Fukuoka, this one is from Itoshima, one of the very ancient centers of early Japanese intereactions with Asia.


The final one is from near Kurayoshi in Tottori and it shows a farm woman using a senbakoki, a threshing machine with a steel "comb" that separates the the easr and grains from the stalks. Prior to its invention in the 17th Century a tool made from a piece of split bamboo, a kokibashi, was used.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rice planting maidens. Saotome.


Saotome, rice-planting maidens from last weekends Tauebayashi Matsuri up in Atoichi.


Saotome appear in all kinds of rice planting ceremonies and rituals all over Japan. The link between agriculture, fertility, and sexuality was common to many rites in agricutural societies, though as far as I know in Japan the explicit link still exists at only one shrine up in Asuka.


Nowadays the maidens come in all ages.


It is difficult to overstate the obsession Japanese have with rice.


To the horror of any Japanese who know me, I don't like the plain, white, sticky, stuff!

Barbarian that I am.


Actually for most japanese, rice only became the staple food relatively recently. For most of japanese history the common people subsisted on a porridge made from various grains. White rice was reserved for special occasions.


The rich lived on white rice, and it is believed emperors and lords sometimes died from beri-beri.

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.