Let me take you to Niigata (新潟市 Japan. It is also called the “City of Water” because of the two rivers that flow through it
Niigata is the biggest city on the island of Honshu. This is the largest island of Japan and it faces the Sea of Japan. Over 807,000 people live in the city of Niigata.
Outside of the City
If we travel outside of Niigata we will see very large areas that grow rice.
Rice is grown in “Paddy fields.” Rice is the number one source of food for many people. There are three types of rice: short, medium and long grain.
It takes one year for the rice to grow from a small plant. Sometimes, water buffalo are used or tractors.
The plants grow until they have many heads filled with rice grains. When the heads turn golden, they are ready to be harvested.
Rice is one of the oldest grains known to humans. Some rice grains discovered in South Korea are thought to be 15,000 years old. The first written account of rice is found in a record on rice planting authorised by a Chinese emperor in 2800 BC. From China across to ancient Greece, from Persia to Africa, rice migrated across the continents and around the world. Rice is a cereal that is a relative of wheat, oats and barley.
Fun After the Rice Harvesting
On this part of the island of Honshu every September to October marks the beginning of the Wara Art Festival. The festival began in 2008, when local university students joined the tourist industry.
To bring tourists to the island, the students agreed to make huge animals from the left over rice straw which is called “Wara.” Here are some of their straw animals:
After the festival is over, the animals are taken down. The straw is ploughed into the earth or fed to animals. Some of the straw will be woven into gifts that next year’s tourists can buy.
If you liked this article, I hope that some day you will be able to travel to Honshu island.