By Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
Now not one American in 10,000 has any reference to becoming or promoting rice, so the strain of the yank govt to open up Japan to our rice stands because the so much weird and wonderful of the entire bizarre legacies of Reaganomics.
Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, professor of anthropology on the college of Wisconsin, believes the rice exchange had assumed (at the time this publication was once released, in 1993) a symbolic significance to American policymakers. might be 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 truly is approximately jap attitudes towards the grain, and it seems they're in many ways deluded to boot, notwithstanding harmlessly so.
'A people's delicacies, or a selected nutrition, usually 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 used to be born in Japan and has investigated 'others' there, resembling the Ainu.
In the United States, we're usually informed that rice is so uncomplicated to eastern 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 used to be ever the staple foodstuff there. the typical humans could have been extra depending on millet or, later, candy potatoes.
But there isn't any denying the significance of rice to eastern methods of considering. Rice isn't 'self' the best way Hawaiians regard themselves as interchangable with kalo (taro, the elder brother of the 1st Hawaiian), however it was once a present from the gods. It has a soul, is the 'purest' kind of cost and should even be such as semen.
Even while you're what you consume, it is a heavy load of symbolism for a nutrition to hold. And it keeps its symbolic strength, says Ohnuki-Tierney, even though '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 vital for the japanese humans than rice agriculture itself.' As affluence has elevated, the japanese have eaten much less and no more rice, who prefer to replenish on what was facet 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 diminished, frequently, to only one scoop.)
At a similar time, they've got develop into even grouchier approximately their rice, focusing on the grain grown within the northeastern prefectures. creation, although, is especially low. Ohnuki-Tierney says 10 million pounds a yr, a misprint for 10 million plenty. nonetheless, that's in simple terms part a pound an afternoon in keeping with individual, now not a major quantity. (In one other position, she offers intake as seventy two kilograms according to individual in keeping with yr, which works the right kind creation figure.)
The paradoxes continue piling up. notwithstanding Japan fiercely protects its rice agriculture, it produces much less of its nutrition than the other kingdom -- forty nine percernt in 1988. the U.S. provides lots of the deficit. (A scenario altering in prefer of Southeast Asia due to the fact that this ebook was once completed.)
Here on Maui, rice is unfastened -- the cost of 20 cents a pound is under it charges to send it in. In Japan, humans pay approximately 8 occasions what americans Mainlanders pay for rice.They inform interviewers that they could simply have the funds for pricey rice, seeing that they consume so little of it.
'Rice as Self' demonstrates that just about every thing concerning the hyperlink among rice and jap humans comprises paradox, even supposing their perception of paddies because the most lovely and critical panorama -- 'our land' -- might be a bit of much less in clash with fact than the opposite capabilities of rice.
In any case, modernity is slowly altering the connection of jap to rice, Ohnuki-Tierney exhibits. Her e-book definitely demanding situations many glib assumptions approximately 'Japanese personality' which were driven within the united states. And for AJAs (Americans of eastern ancestry), 'Rice as Self' has extra piquance.
Ohnuki-Tierney's persuasive e-book merits a wider readership than anthropological monographs frequently get.