when and where to see fall foliage (Japanese version only):

Friday, October 21, 2011

newly harvested rice

October is the season for newly harvested rice in Japan. We never miss a day without rice.
The emperor dedicates newly harvested rice to Amaterasu-Ohmikami, the Goddess of the Sun, at Kannamesai(神嘗祭) which is a festival held from October 15th to 17th. That festival used to be held on the 17th day of the 9th month in the lunar calendar.

Last year's harvested rice was lack in quality due to unusual high temperatures in summer. This year's newly harvested rice tastes better than last year's. I have eaten the newly harvested rice since early October.

I always buy Koshihikari from Niigata Prefecture other than Minamiuonuma area. Koshihikari is a japonica rice cultivar.  Sasanishiki from Miyagi used to be one of the two major rice cultivars, along with Koshihikari from Niigata.  Now Koshihikari, especially products from Minamiuonuma area in Niigata, has a decided edge over the other cultivars.

This year, tsunami caused the rice paddies in tsunami-hit areas in Tohoku including Miyagi Prefecture to be harmed by salt. Less rice producers in the areas got good results in harvesting rice. They eliminated salt from salt-affected paddies by repeated drainage treatment.

Some people buy not new rice but old one for fear of radiation contamination this year. New rice from Fukushima is currently on the market because Fukushima Prefecture issued a declaration vouching for the safety of Fukushima's new rice after checking it for radioactivity.  However, the declaration can't address concerns over consumers.

Many mothers who have small children are very nervous about radioactive materials. However, opinions are split on how far we should be worried about them. Some people claim sampling tests are insufficient for confirming safety and devise voluntary countermeasures, other people don't worry too much about radioactive materials.

A TV program named "Asaichi" checked all the meals that seven family members ate for seven days for radioactivity.  The program spent 2 hours checking using an accurate radioactivity detector after putting one day's meals for one person in the blender.

The seven family includes two families in Fukushima, two families in Tokyo, one family in Hokkaido, one family in Osaka and one family in Hiroshima. Most of them mainly eat local products, but a family in Tokyo orders farm products from western Japan.

Radioactive materials(scesium 134 and 137) were undetectable in the meals of two families in Fukushima and Hiroshima. One day's meals of other five families contained a minute amount of the materials(5.69 Bq/kg scesium 134 in Hokkaido, 3.66 Bq/kg scesium 134 in Fukushima, 4.05 Bq/kg scesium 134 and 8.97 Bq/kg scesium 137 in Tokyo, 3.4 Bq/kg scesium 134 in Osaka.) Water and newly harvested rice in the above seven areas were examined individually, and the materials were undetectable.

Unbelievers don't believe this result. Some farm producers make detailed inspections on radioactivity levels in their products and provide consumers with the results.
I'm not young, so I don't worry too much about radioactive materials.
Many people are in agreement on the point that the government should review the provisional standard values for food in Japan.

ears of rice and a red dragonfly

Red dragonfly is a feature of autumn in Japan. They go to cool highland areas to avoid the heat of summer and move to low-lying lands in autumn.


Tanada (terraced rice paddies along steep hills) is one of beautiful scenery, but it requires great care because much of the work is done by hand. Most of Tanada are preserved as a tourist spot.


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