Rice plays a major role in the history and psyche of Japan.
Japanese culture is completely based on rice. According to anthropologists the Japanese rice culture gave form to the Japanese mind. Small rice paddies which were hewn from mountains with great difficulty were irrigated in a complicated manner by dams, sluices and canals. It forced the members of the community to cooperation and consensus in order to be able to share the water. Rice culture determined the live patterns of the community to the tiniest detail. Rice replaced money, was the measure of richness and the ultimate symbol of raw political power.
June has been traditionally the month that rice was planted, although this is done a lot earlier these days. The month has a multitude of festivals which symbolically re-enact the planting of the 'first rice'. These ceremonies, o-taue, give the community a chance to pray for a good harvest. They are symbols of fertility in general; the year is reborn and the annual cycle of live begins.
Deeply rooted in daily life, rice is to the Japanese, food for the soul as well as the belly.
This series of photographs shows rice and sake in traditional Japanese settings. They are but a small collection of rice-related photographs in stock.
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