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 executive to open up Japan to our rice stands because the so much weird and wonderful 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 used to be released, in 1993) a symbolic value to American policymakers. possibly so, even though they communicate as though the query is substantial.
However, 'Rice as Self' isn't really approximately America's harmful delusions approximately rice. it's approximately eastern attitudes towards the grain, and it seems they're in many ways deluded to boot, although harmlessly so.
'A people's delicacies, or a specific nutrition, 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 instructed that rice is so easy 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 no matter if rice used to be ever the staple meals there. the typical humans can have been extra depending on millet or, later, candy potatoes.
But there is not any denying the significance of rice to jap methods of pondering. Rice isn't 'self' the way in which 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' type of check and will even be akin to 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 jap 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 replenish on what was 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 diminished, often, to simply 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 merely part a pound an afternoon in step with individual, now not a big quantity. (In one other position, she offers intake as seventy two kilograms in line with individual according to 12 months, which works the right kind creation figure.)
The paradoxes hold piling up. notwithstanding Japan fiercely protects its rice agriculture, it produces much less of its nutrition than the other country -- forty nine percernt in 1988. the U.S. provides lots of the deficit. (A state of affairs altering in want of Southeast Asia on the grounds that this booklet was once completed.)
Here on Maui, rice is unfastened -- the cost of 20 cents a pound is under it expenses to send it in. In Japan, humans pay approximately 8 instances what american citizens Mainlanders pay for rice.They inform interviewers that they could simply have enough money dear rice, considering that they devour so little of it.
'Rice as Self' demonstrates that nearly every little thing concerning the hyperlink among rice and eastern humans comprises paradox, even if their perception of paddies because the most pretty and critical panorama -- 'our land' -- could be slightly much less in clash with truth than the opposite features of rice.
In any case, modernity is slowly altering the connection of eastern to rice, Ohnuki-Tierney shows. Her booklet 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 booklet merits a wider readership than anthropological monographs often get.
Read Online or Download Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time (Princeton Paperbacks) by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (1994-11-14) PDF
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