A STORY OF RICE
To the Japanese people, rice is not just about filling a hungry stomach. Rather, it is a sacred food and It is reflected in traditional events based on the lifestyle and customs enjoying a long history in the nation. The people have cultivated a spirit of worship and respect for the abundant blessings of nature in Japan. These blessings are offset by occasional misfortunes such as floods and unnaturally cool summers. Famines due to rice crop failures from cold-weather damage have been recorded time and again in the nation’s history. Japanese have long studied selective breeding and cultivation methods aimed at adjusting rice growing to the seasons, the climates, and the regions of Japan in response to Mother Nature’s profound power. Citizens sense the hand of deities in the providence of nature, and have historically prayed for favorable rice harvests throughout the land, hosting traditional festivals across the nation in gratitude and celebration of each year’s fruitful yield.
In Inner Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, an annual folk tradition is held to honor and thank regional deities for abundant crops, at which time these unseen gods are invited into the homes of the people and offered a bath and meal. After the harvest, the gods of the rice fields are welcomed and thanked. Upon “spending the winter” with these gods, the people pray for another good harvest prior to the spring rice-planting, at which time the gods are sent off.SEE MORE IN WEBSITE
The Japanese language refers to cooked rice as “gohan,” a word which also signifies an entire meal. This “gohan,” sacred to the Japanese, commands the starring role in washoku (Japanese) cuisine, but also serves as an outstanding and irreplaceable supporting role. This piping-hot and glossy rice combines with a rich variety of seasonal and local fresh vegetables, seafood, seaweed, and other ingredients to create washoku, representing the nutritionally-balanced, ideal food culture. Seasonings such as soy sauce, miso, and mirin (sweet cooking wine) which are indispensable to washoku are all made from rice, as is sake.
In December 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registered washoku on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, ensuring recognition of this outstanding food culture throughout the world. From here on, as global citizens get to know and adore washoku, they will also fall in love with its central player… WA RICE