Side Quest: Otaue Matsuri

At the start of the rice-growing season, rice planting festivals are held in hopes of a good harvest. A procession of traditionally dressed participants tends to a small patch of rice field. Rice planting festivals occur all over Japan around this time of year, so we headed to a local one just outside of Okazaki.

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The procession starts with singing and dancing as they walk towards the rice field.

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As with most events of this type, family members attend to support participating relatives. Or play in the dirt, whichever.

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A girl adjusts her hat as she waits to start the rice planting ceremony.

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More singing and dancing as the planters start. The procession makes a continual loop around the rice patty until the planters finish.

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The girls assist the planters by passing shoots of rice when needed. Once a row of rice is completed, the assembly steps back and repeats.

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Mud sticks to the feet of the planters after trudging through the rice patty.

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A group of male planters finish off planting the last few rows in the field.

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After the planting is finished, everyone cleans up and then heads home.

Today, most rice-growing is heavily automated, so the old laborious ways of planting crops are only for tradition. While modern farming may be more efficient, this rice planting festival showed us that the old way has a lot of heart.