Rice Heritage

Rice in Greetings, Meanings, and Symbolism


In Bangladesh, China and Thailand, instead of "How are you?" a common greeting is, "Have you eaten your rice today?"

Also in China, at the beginning of the new year, people do not say, "Happy New Year!" but "May your rice never burn!"

In Japan, people did not think in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but rather morning rice (asa gohan), afternoon rice (hiru gohan), and evening rice (ban gohan).

In Taiwan, China, death is symbolized by chopsticks stuck into a mound of rice.

In Singapore, a good job is an iron rice bowl, and being out of a job, a broken rice bowl.

In Japan, auto titans are even rooted in the rice fields: Toyota means bountiful rice field and Honda means main rice field.

In Lao PDR and Thailand, the phrase for eating rice is synonymous with eating food.


Sources: W.W. Williams, "From Asia’s Good Earth," Hemispheres, December 1996.
IRRI, Sustaining Food Security Beyond the Year 2000, Medium-Term Plan 1998-2000, 1997.

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