September 23, 2018 Sun
Drying rice in the September sun

A softening sun and yellowing rice fields signal that it is harvest season. This is a busy time for farmers, who must cut rice stalks, dry them (to reduce moisture content before storage), and eventually harvest the grain. After the grain is obtained, the stalks are either burnt and used as fertiliser, or used to make a variety of objects, such as rope. In rural areas such as Yosano, traditional methods, such as sun drying, are still employed. These days few farmers can derive any significant earnings from crop-rearing, but many tend to their fields in order to keep traditional farming methods alive, and to have the pleasure of cultivating their own rice. Though the importance of the rice harvest may be less evident today, it is important to remember how traditional Japanese life and culture was completely structured around growing the crop; as well as influencing various religious and seasonal traditions, some anthropologists have argued that the intensive nature of rice-growing influenced the collectivist nature of Japanese society, which is one of its defining features. The stacks of drying rice therefore serve not only as a pleasant addition to the landscape, but as a reminder of the importance of the land in forming its people.

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