Rice and Mentality
We can never overlook the close relationship between rice and the Japanese mentality.
Not only rice itself, but also its cultivation have had a profound influence on our mentality.
In rice cultivation, the most important thing is water.
In April, we sow grains in the ordinary field, but a month later transplant the seedlings into paddy fields filled with water.
Rice remains in the water for about three months.
Careful irrigation and weeding are indispensable.
In the past, it was almost impossible for a family to push it through by themselves.
As a result, they belonged to a local community and always tried hard to keep good relations with other members.
Banishment meant death for them.
However, this mentality has not changed so much until today.
You can easily find the same type of mentality in modern Japan.
Even in modern companies, the decision is rarely based on individual responsibility and the process called “né-mawashi” is often used to get a consensus.
“Né” means roots.
Originally, the word “né-mawashi” is used in gardening and it means “digging around the root of a tree before transplanting it”.
But today this word generally means “behind-the-scenes negotiations”.
In the process of né-mawashi, they make actual decisions outside of official meetings and after the né-mawashi, the protocol meeting takes place.
Finally, a document is circulated among persons concerned and they press their stamps called “Hanko“.
Because in Japan, the impression of Hanko has the same legal value as the signature in other countries.
Rice and Shinto
Speaking of the influence of rice on Japanese mentality, we can never forget the existence of Shinto.
Although Shinto is the indigenous religion in Japan, it is a bit too ambiguous to be called a religion.
Little is known about its origin and Shinto remains mysterious even for Japanese.
But anyway, according to a Shinto legend, a grandson of the Sun Goddess (Amaterasu) brought rice ears into Japan to nourish the people living there.
Incidentally, Amaterasu is the principal goddess in Shinto.
For the stories about Shinto, visit here
⇒Rice and Shinto