The secret's out: Japanese people like rice. I mean, they REALLY like rice. Like the Inuits and their one hundred words for snow, the Japanese have numerous words for rice. Before its cooked its called o-kome,honorable rice, then when its cooked its called gohan (which, not coincidentally, is also the word for meal)- there is rice wine (sake), rice candy, special rice you eat for celebrations, rice you give to the gods- the list goes on.
Okuizumo is famous for its very delicious rice. Named 仁多米 or Nita Rice, I find it is rather tasty (although if you talk to any native of the area they will talk about it as the be all and end all of rice). In fact, Minari Elementary recently went on a school field trip to Hiroshima and when describing the trip to me, one boy felt the need to note that Hiroshima's rice was not nearly as tasty as Okuizumo's. Heheh. Everywhere around me there are rice fields. I thought there were a lot of corn fields in Lafayette- but there is no comparison to the amount of rice fields around here. People have recently begun harvesting rice. This rice harvest is something I've never seen before. They have machines that cut the rice and then different areas have their own way of drying the rice. In Ai they make crazy huge walls of rice. You can see three within two minutes of my apartment.
Another family makes use of the guard rail alongside the road for a drying rack. In Yokota it seems they make little rice teepees. I eat rice at least twice a day (I hope to change this in my future pilgrimage to Osaka where there is a Costco and industrial sized cartons of oatmeal. I love rice, but for breakfast oats are my carbohydrate of choice).
On an unrelated and much grosser note, I saw my first Mukade the other day. Mukade are pretty much giant mutant centipedes, whose sting can kill a small child. Read: the monsters of my worst nightmares. He was in the doorway of the teachers office at Nita Junior High. There are various gory ways of killing Mukade. You can cut them in half with scissors. You can pour boiling water on them. You can smash them with a hammer. But unfortunately, you cannot simply squish them in a handkercheif. Oh, and they always travel in husband/wife pairs. How romantic.