Stages of the Rice Harvest
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Gradations five rice paddies in the mountains of north-eastern Osaka Prefecture, Japan -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 140mm — 1/800 sec, f/13, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Gradations
five rice paddies in the mountains of north-eastern Osaka Prefecture, Japan

In yesterday's post I talked about the highlight of a recent scooter trip into the mountains of rural Nara Prefecture, meeting a friendly farmer lady. Prior to meeting her, the highlight was enjoying the scenes of rice harvest, so today's post is few shots from various places prior to meeting her. Most are from the very rural edge of Katano City, Osaka Prefecture, just prior to crossing over the pass to the equally rural edge of Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture. As always, the photos have map links under them.

In the photo above, I was going for the same vibe as in these photos from a couple of years ago, but the result is, unfortunately, just too bright and monochromatic to grab my attention. Oh well.

You can see the same area from a different angle in the next shot....

Atlas Desktop-Background Versions 1280 × 800   ·   1680 × 1050   ·   1920 × 1200   ·   2560 × 1600 -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/800 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Atlas
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The long bamboo poles he's carrying are used in the rice harvest, as we'll see in a bit. In the shot above, he's walking toward his house, which you can see better in the next photo...

Violent Wind Damage -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 80mm — 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Violent Wind Damage

An isolated section of rice was smooshed flat for no apparent reason, but I asked a farmer and he explained that it was the wind, like a small tornado...

“From a Small Tornado” so I'm told -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
“From a Small Tornado”
so I'm told

One sees this kind of damage from time to time. I'm not sure I buy the tornado theory due to the lack of circularness in the smooshed-rice pattern, but I do believe that a violent downdraft, say of wind raging down the mountain during a typhoon, could be forcefully enough to snap the stalks. This rice, I was told, will likely be salvagable because it wasn't pushed under water. I don't know when the damage occurred, but a couple of typhoons that swept through the area at times this month are likely culprits. At the moment, all the fields are drained of water in preparation for harvest.

There's a road-side vending machine next to the house, which seems to function like a small convenience store for folks in these parts. The farmer I chatted with had walked up from his field further down the mountain to get a drink. We had a nice chat.

Gentleman Farmer -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/3200 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Gentleman Farmer

Just to offer a bit of perspective on the location, here's a view of the house and rice paddies from a bit up the road, looking out toward Katano City in northern Osaka Prefecture....

Perspective -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 125mm — 1/800 sec, f/11, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Perspective

The tall buildings in the foreground of the background are about 8km away, here. The tall building in the haze in the far background is about 20km away, here.

To the right of the farmer in the photo above, you can see some red flowers at the edge of the rice fields. They were growing in bunches in random spots here and there...

Red Spider Lily Desktop-Background Versions 1280 × 800   ·   1680 × 1050   ·   1920 × 1200   ·   2560 × 1600 -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/2500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Red Spider Lily
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They made for a nice spot of color against all the green. I had no idea what they were, but looked them up to find that they're red spider lilys, in Japanese, higanbana (彼岸花) literally “equinox flower”. Wikipedia tells me that because the bulbs are poisonous, they're often planted near rice fields to deter pests like mice.

Here's a closer view of a bunch that I came across later, near the side of the road.

Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Once the rice is ready to harvest, as all this rice is, they'll cut it off just above the ground...

Ready -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 82mm — 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Ready
Stubble -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Stubble

The lowest paddy on the mountain had already been cut, but the rice not yet bundled and hung to dry...

During Harvest -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
During Harvest

The bamboo poles sticking in the ground are the beginning of a framework for hanging the rice bundles to dry. You can see the farmer at the right side of the photo with a stack of bamboo, as who I suppose is his wife in the background working on making bundles...

Under Construction -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Under Construction
Bundling -- Katano, Osaka, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 102mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Bundling

Moving over the mountain pass into Nara, near the lady I chatted with yesterday, I came across some areas with cut rice hanging to dry...

Drying Out -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/10, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Drying Out
Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/10, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos

The combination of hills, rice paddies in various stages, vegetable fields, etc., made for some nice scenes...

Quintessential Farming Vista -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1250 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Quintessential Farming Vista

The next sequence shows an ever-closer look at the rice...

Desktop-Background Versions 1280 × 800   ·   1680 × 1050   ·   1920 × 1200   ·   2560 × 1600 -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 125mm — 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Desktop-Background Versions
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Desktop-Background Versions 1280 × 800   ·   1680 × 1050   ·   1920 × 1200   ·   2560 × 1600 -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/500 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600
Desktop-Background Versions 1280 × 800   ·   1680 × 1050   ·   1920 × 1200   ·   2560 × 1600 -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/5000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600
Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice Up Close and Personal -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice
Up Close and Personal

Here's a full-resolution crop from that last shot, to show some detail in the rice husk. (It was a handheld shot while crouched down at the edge of a rice paddy, with the wind blowing, while half concentrating on listening to the farmer lady tell her husband about me somewhere off in the distance.... so please excuse the lack of sharpness.)

Husk full-resolution crop from above -- Ikoma, Nara, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Husk
full-resolution crop from above

I'll post more from this trip later, but for reference I posted this kind of thing four years ago, in “The Rice Harvest” and “The Rice Harvest, Old-School”. And for the flip side, there's “Preparing a Paddy for Rice Seedlings”.

Continued here...


All 11 comments so far, oldest first...

Dear Jeffrey,

Am a short-term visitor in Japan and made some pictures somewhat like yours in the last couple of weekends: spider lilies (thanks for giving the name!), rice harvested & drying. But I see I still have to learn a lot about photography: your pictures are much nicer!

You’re getting rather Japanese in your diffidence: “so please excuse the lack of sharpness”. LOL, you know you’re joking!

Thanks for the continuing inspiration–I’ll keep trying!

— comment by Don on September 29th, 2011 at 6:43pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, could you estimate the amount of rice grown around the place that is used to feed Kyoto? Is it exported to other parts of Japan?

I was wondering the same thing myself on the way home… once you leave the mountains in that area, there are large flat areas filled with rice paddies, and I wondered whether such bounty was enough to supply the town, a small percentage of what the town needed, or a large surplus. I truly have no idea. —Jeffrey

— comment by parv on September 29th, 2011 at 9:55pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Really liked this tour of the harvest. V interesting. One thought, any photos of the field-draining mechanisms? Am sure they would not be very photogenic but if you got a couple that would satisfy the odd irrigation interests of your readers!?.

RE the spider lillies – perhaps Peter in Wales can advise but are these what we over here might call Nerines? Or Guernsey Lillies? They are a really tremendous red aren’t they!
Annie

— comment by Annie in London on September 30th, 2011 at 5:32pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I don’t think it answers parv’s question, but there are some interesting statistics and trends on this Japanese government website:
http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook/c05cont.htm#cha5_5

I do wonder what the yield of rice, in particular, would be from a small farm like this, what else they grow, and how they market their crops.

— comment by Peter in Wales on September 30th, 2011 at 5:59pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Annie, no these Japanese spider lilies are Lycoris radiata, but it is very similar and presumably closely related to the South African Nerine. Guernsey lily is Nerine sarniensis, which was in the 17th century mistakenly thought to be from Japan. Lycoris is said to be pretty frost-hardy, but there must be a reason why it is not grown in our UK gardens – I suspect it needs more reliable summer heat and perhaps drier winters. When I first became interested in Japan and its flowers, photographs in books of the red spider lilies intrigued me, looking so exotic, almost incongruous, among the other Japanese wild-flowers; but I never saw them in flower during my visits, so it’s great to see them here.

— comment by Peter in Wales on September 30th, 2011 at 10:03pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,
Thanks as always for sharing your great photos. I’ve always been intrigued by the contrast between “modern,” industrial Japan and the timelessness of its rural areas. This post illustrates how very close the two come to each other. Fascinating!

— comment by Karen in Virginia on September 30th, 2011 at 10:04pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

ヒガンバナって英語でこう表現するんですね。知らなかった。勉強になりましたー

— comment by Junichiro-Kosera on October 1st, 2011 at 12:00am JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

So THAT’s why you see those flat bits in rice fields! I’ve always wondered about that. Thanks for stunning photos (as always). PS: As a South African, I’m also happy to hear about the spider lily’s link with my home country. This post has taught me a lot!

— comment by Rurousha on October 3rd, 2011 at 8:24am JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

First pictures remember me the landscapes photos of Atsushi Motoi.
Very nice shots.

— comment by Massimo on October 3rd, 2011 at 4:10pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Your gentleman farmer has either been to Australia, or been given his cap from someone who has been there. The first I suspect 🙂

— comment by Richard on October 3rd, 2011 at 9:15pm JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

A bit of trivia for parv. The place I was born and raised in Australia is in New South Wales (State) and the regional area is called the Riverina and there is an irrigation area called the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murrumbidgee_Irrigation_Area) This irrigation area was built after WW2 and settled by returned soldiers. The MIA grows a great proportion of Australias Rice; Oranges; Grapes and produces some of the best wines in the world. How does this relate to parv’s question? We produce more rice than we could ever eat. In the early 90’s the MIA started to produce Rice for the Japanese market after the import bans were lifted by the Japanese Government. Sushi & Koshihikari Rice along with specialty rices grown for the Japanese Beer market. The majority of all rice grown in Australia is now exported to over 70 countries with Japan being one of our largest customers even though they produce a surplus of rice each year. The Japanese Rice industry has had an interesting history, but production and quality is starting to decline hence the increase of imports from other countries. You can find out more about the Japanese Rice Industry @ http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=939&catid=24&subcatid=159#16

— comment by Richard on October 4th, 2011 at 8:10am JST (6 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink
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