Friday, May 14, 2010
Saotome, rice-planting maidens from last weekends Tauebayashi Matsuri up in Atoichi.
Saotome appear in all kinds of rice planting ceremonies and rituals all over Japan. The link between agriculture, fertility, and sexuality was common to many rites in agricutural societies, though as far as I know in Japan the explicit link still exists at only one shrine up in Asuka.
Nowadays the maidens come in all ages.
It is difficult to overstate the obsession Japanese have with rice.
To the horror of any Japanese who know me, I don't like the plain, white, sticky, stuff!
Barbarian that I am.
Actually for most japanese, rice only became the staple food relatively recently. For most of japanese history the common people subsisted on a porridge made from various grains. White rice was reserved for special occasions.