How about some pictures of Japanese scenery?
The farmers are beginning to harvest the rice around here and in the early mornings we can hear the combines going back and forth along the fields. Sort of a soft comforting sound really. I know nothing about rice farming but I've noticed when I've lived in different places in Japan that each area of Japan has different ways of stacking the rice stalks after they've been cut. Some bunches of rice will be draped on specially built fences, others systematically piled in little stalks. In the past few years though, I've noticed that the farmers no longer stack the rice much anymore, so I asked one man who was working out in his field and he said that though rice tastes better dried slowly in the sun, nowadays all farmers have a rice drying machine that will dry the rice overnight. The rice plants are reaped and threshed and cleaned by the combine and then dried and bagged for the rice co-op to sell and this can all be done within about 24 hours.
Years ago, when all four of us were living here, I'd buy a 30 kilo bag (70lbs.?) of un-hulled rice from a farmer and hull it myself by one of the many hulling vending machines in our area (we really are a farming community!) I always thought 30 kilos of rice is a lot for a family but true Japanese who eat rice breakfast lunch and dinner will buy 90 to 150 kilos of rice and expect to eat it all in a year! Nowadays, with only Tetsu and me in the house, we just don't go through rice quickly enough for me to need such a big bag so I buy my rice at the grocery store 5 kilos at a time.
This week, one of the English kids' mothers brought me a small bag of "new rice" that her family had just freshly harvested. This is probably an all time favorite gift to receive in Japan. There's no way you can live without rice if you are a true Japanese family!