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