Hiroshima #2 – Rice Scoop with Carp Mascot (しゃもじ withカープ坊や)

WOW, long time no post! Sorry for seemingly abandoning the site… after coming back from my trip to Europe, I was both extremely busy with work, and waiting impatiently for the 8th set of postcards to come out. Work is still busy, the new cards still aren’t out, and here I’ve gone half a month without posting anything. So I’ll be doing a post a day for awhile to show I’m not dead! Here to begin is Hiroshima’s second postcard, combining rice scoops (shamoji) made in the area with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp Baseball Team’s mascot, Carp Boy.

Shamoji are said to have been developed by a monk living on Itsukushima, better known as the famous Miyajima near Hiroshima City. Now, these rice scoops are a household item throughout Japan, often of plastic these days, but also sometimes the more traditional wood. I guess just the rice paddle was too plain of a card, so a picture of carp boy was added. Hiroshima’s baseball team is… well, they’re not that good (sorry, Hiroshima). Mostly the reason is that they are actually the only team that’s not majority owned by a company, so the team is always short of money!

Anyway, when I visited Miyajima, I could see the giant rice paddle commemorating the humble beginnings of the shamoji:

Here we go… wow its big!

Without the postcard

You can take home one of these smaller ones. It’ll fit in your luggage better, for sure!

I probably should have bought one, but I don’t actually have a rice cooker so…

Ishikawa #4: Senmaida Terraced Rice Fields (白米千枚田)

Today, let’s head out from the Kanto area into Ishikawa and the rural Noto Peninsula. I went on a road trip here during Golden Week 2 years ago and enjoyed the wild beauty of sea and sky. Of course I bought my postcards, but I didn’t take any pictures with them and the sights because despite running this blog and constantly thinking about it during my free time, I pretty much remember to take photos with the actual postcards only about 30% of the time.

However since it is unlikely I’ll be able to go back anytime soon just for that photograph of the fields with the postcard, I’m going to go ahead and post about it anyway. If anyone actually goes, takes a picture with the postcard, and doesn’t mind sending it to me, I will upload and post it will full credit and copious praise. Meanwhile, let’s learn about these interesting fields!

The Senmaida rice fields are located in the Shiroyone area near Wajima City in the rural Noto-Hanto (Peninsula) area of Ishikawa. Many tourists are familiar with the beautiful city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa, but few venture into Noto as a car is 100% necessary to get anywhere anytime soon. Actually, the amount of Japanese people I’ve met who have traveled in this area has been maybe one. It isn’t popular. But that makes it all the more interesting!

Anyone who has lived or traveled in Japan know that space is an issue. You’d think a place out in the middle of nowhere like Shiroyone would have plenty of room for rice fields, but actually rice can be pretty difficult to grow. As such, farmers in the 17th or so centuries found that the best place was the steep hill between mountain and ocean, and terraced the rice fields of Senmaida for that purpose.

Because the fields of Senmaida are so small, only the top few allow any sort of automated planting machine to be used, as you can see one man using it in the pictures below. Usually rice is planted with big machines these days, and only school children plant a little by hand just for the experience… but with the exceptions of those few top fields, the rest of Senmaida must be planted by hand. We came a little early in the season to see that; I’m sure a few more days and there would have been many people out there planting. Actually, you can even rent a plot to try the experience of planting yourself. What a great way for the farmers of Senmaida to give enjoyment and experience to tourists, and also get out of the work themselves!

Coming up on the rice fields

An information board explaining a little about the history

Looking down on the fields from the road

Another view while walking along the paths

Planting rice in late afternoon