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Rice Photo Gallery III  

Kazuko Tomiyama's 'Rice in Japan' Calendar (2002)

Shimenawa straw festoons at Izumo Taisha

(Taisha Town, Shimane Prefecture)

During the Japanese New Year, nearly everyone enjoys pounded rice cakes. By custom, sacred Shimenawa straw festoons are hung, and people flock to shrines to pray for luck in the coming year. Rice is part of our festivities, rice is part of prayer. It is easy to see how our way of life has revolved around rice culture. So why is it that our country has to bring in rice from overseas? 

Tended for 2000 years, the fields beneath our feet have been eroded by relentless commands to stop growing rice. In this 21st century, widespread starvation will stalk the Earth again. While other advanced nations are shoring up their own agriculture and working to ensure their long-term survival, our country imports about three quarters of its cereal foods.

In France, self-sufficiency is ten times better than in Japan. Of 160 countries ranked for self-sufficiency, Japan is 150th. When you look up at the large Shimenawa at the start of the year, this is a new mystery that you can ponder.

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