By Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
No longer one American in 10,000 has any reference to starting to be or promoting rice, so the strain of the yank executive to open up Japan to our rice stands because the so much extraordinary of all of the bizarre legacies of Reaganomics.
Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, professor of anthropology on the collage of Wisconsin, believes the rice alternate had assumed (at the time this booklet was once released, in 1993) a symbolic significance to American policymakers. probably so, even supposing they communicate as though the query is substantial.
However, 'Rice as Self' isn't approximately America's risky delusions approximately rice. it's approximately eastern attitudes towards the grain, and it seems they're in many ways deluded in addition, notwithstanding harmlessly so.
'A people's delicacies, or a selected nutrients, frequently marks the boundary among the collective self and the opposite, for instance, as a foundation of discrimination opposed to different people,' writes Ohnuki-Tierney, who was once born in Japan and has investigated 'others' there, reminiscent of the Ainu.
In the US, we're frequently advised that rice is so simple to jap ways in which the phrases for breakfast and dinner translate actually as 'morning rice' and 'evening rice.' yet Ohnuki-Tierney says this centrality is extra psychic than actual. there's an highbrow dispute in Japan approximately even if rice was once ever the staple nutrients there. the typical humans can have been extra depending on millet or, later, candy potatoes.
But there isn't any denying the significance of rice to jap methods of pondering. Rice isn't 'self' the best way Hawaiians regard themselves as interchangable with kalo (taro, the elder brother of the 1st Hawaiian), however it used to be a present from the gods. It has a soul, is the 'purest' kind of cost and should even be resembling semen.
Even while you're what you devour, it is a heavy load of symbolism for a foodstuff to hold. And it keeps its symbolic strength, says Ohnuki-Tierney, although 'scarcely any modern eastern might carry . . . that rice has a soul or that rice is a deity.'
Paradoxically, 'the symbolism of rice has remained extra very important for the japanese humans than rice agriculture itself.' As affluence has elevated, the japanese have eaten much less and not more rice, who prefer to refill on what was once aspect dishes of greens, fish and flesh. (In Hawaii, the 'two-scoop rice' of the old-time okazu-ya [cafeteria] lunch has in recent times been lowered, often, to only one scoop.)
At an analogous time, they've got develop into even more bad-tempered approximately their rice, focusing on the grain grown within the northeastern prefectures. construction, despite the fact that, is especially low. Ohnuki-Tierney says 10 million pounds a 12 months, a misprint for 10 million lots. nonetheless, that's in simple terms part a pound an afternoon in step with individual, now not an immense quantity. (In one other position, she provides intake as seventy two kilograms in step with individual according to yr, which goes the right kind creation figure.)
The paradoxes hold piling up. although Japan fiercely protects its rice agriculture, it produces much less of its nutrients than the other kingdom -- forty nine percernt in 1988. the USA offers lots of the deficit. (A state of affairs altering in want of Southeast Asia given that this booklet was once completed.)
Here on Maui, rice is unfastened -- the cost of 20 cents a pound is lower than it expenditures to send it in. In Japan, humans pay approximately 8 occasions what american citizens Mainlanders pay for rice.They inform interviewers that they could simply find the money for dear rice, on the grounds that they consume so little of it.
'Rice as Self' demonstrates that just about every thing concerning the hyperlink among rice and jap humans includes paradox, even supposing their notion of paddies because the most pretty and important panorama -- 'our land' -- should be just a little much less in clash with fact than the opposite features of rice.
In any case, modernity is slowly altering the connection of jap to rice, Ohnuki-Tierney shows. Her e-book definitely demanding situations many glib assumptions approximately 'Japanese personality' which have been driven within the united states. And for AJAs (Americans of jap ancestry), 'Rice as Self' has extra piquance.
Ohnuki-Tierney's persuasive booklet merits a wider readership than anthropological monographs frequently get.
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Additional info for Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time (Princeton Paperbacks)
The government pays rice farmers not to use their land for rice, a practice known as the reduction of cultivated land (gentan) (Asahi Shinbun, May 31, 1990). In 1988 the government forced farmers to reduce land used for rice cultivation by 30 percent (Asahi Shinbun, January 27, 1988). Today of the 3 million hectares of rice paddies in Japan 770,000 hectares lie fallow (Kano 1987:40). Second, the government encouraged an increase in rice consumption. Farmers were exempted from reducing rice production if they could implement ways to increase rice consumption, for example, by using it in school lunch programs or by increasing the consumption of sake (Asahi Shinbun, January 27, 1988).
Whether the Sushi Boy victory is a sign of things to come, a prediction that Japanese opposition to California rice is weakening, is difficult to say. Japan’s stubborn opposition, at least so far, to rice importation contrasts starkly with its eagerness to import foreign goods that are prestige items among the Japanese. Revlon lipsticks are sold at prices several times higher than domestic lipsticks, just as Ivory soap is a fancy and expensive gift item, not to mention French wines and cognac, Polo clothing, Gucci handbags; all are fads purchased enthusiastically at astronomical prices (Ohnuki-Tierney 1990a).
Japanese, especially older Japanese who travel abroad, often 42 CHAPTER 3 complain that they do not feel satisfied after eating meals without rice; manpukukan (the full-stomach feeling) is not achieved without rice, no matter what else is eaten. Traditional Japanese dishes (washoku) have made a remarkable comeback for special occasions. Many inns and restaurants try to attract customers with beautiful photographs of elaborate Japanese dinners, which have many courses served simultaneously. Most fashionable hotels and large buildings compete by having Western, Chinese, and Japanese haute cuisine.