This photo depicts a scene in a Japanese village in May, a season referred to as shoka (the beginnings of summer). This plant, of course, is rice. Rice crops were introduced to Japan from China around 3000 years ago and became the staple food of Japan. In Japan, it rains a lot in June (the tsuyu season) and is very hot and humid in summer. This climate is suitable for growing rice.
The seed of a rice plant is known as kome. The word kome originally meant small grain. A large number of Japanese foods, beverages and condiments pay homage to this grain, including sushi, onigiri, curry & rice, fried rice, dango dumplings, osenbei rice crackers, beverages (such as sake), and vinegar.
The words gohan and meshi mean cooked rice. Both words also mean meals. Originally, freshly cooked rice was gohan, cooled or seasoned rice was meshi. Nowadays, meshi is used mainly by males and is regarded as very casual expression.
Japanese people ate about 320 grams of rice every day in the 1960s. Nowadays, they eat only about 150 grams. Increasingly many people do not eat rice even once a week. Some do not have kome at home. This phenomenon is called komebanare, literally means ‘moving away from rice’.
Decreasing rice consumption is problematic for rice producers. Therefore, they campaign to sell more rice by planting tastier rice and creating suitable rice plants for specific cooking needs such as rice for curry. Recently a video clip of a 60 year old kimono clad lady dancing hip-hop has gone viral. The video clip is to promote rice.
Top photo: whale | Haline Ly