Elizabeth Andoh: A Taste of Culture – Kakashi Guarding the Fields

Farmers around the world deploy “scarecrows” to guard their crops from undesirable flying, crawling, and burrowing creatures. Japan’s kakashi scarecrows that stand guard over rice fields tend to be more whimsical than frightening figures. Above, rice fields in Kanagawa Prefecture, west of Yokohama, with their guardian kakashi taking a brief lunch break, enjoying onigiri rice balls.

For nearly a decade I commuted regularly between Osaka and Tokyo and during that time I found myself keenly aware of the change in seasons as rice fields whizzed past my bullet-train window. 

The flat, white, snow-covered landscape of late winter would morph into a barren, brown expanse as spring approached. Then in early June orderly rows of stubby, green rice seedlings would appear in water-flooded ditches. 

During the summer months fields became lush, verdant carpets. By September, green had turned to gold and the rice was ready to be scythe-cut and set to dry on scaffolds. 

As the days shorten and the evenings turn cooler, I (like most here in Japan) eagerly await the appearance of shin mai, newly harvested rice, on store shelves. 

One way to feature shin mai is to put rice dishes at the center of the menu: TAKIKOMI GOHAN

Visit my KITCHEN CULTURE Blog to learn more about kakashi scarecrows. Then visit my Kitchen Culture Cooking Club where you’ll find a recipe for making takikomi gohan featuring fall mushrooms.

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Elizabeth Andoh A Taste of Culture Culinary Arts Program Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0095, Japan


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