Ancestral Practice (02:57)
Japanese men play taiko drums while dressed as mystical creatures; the ritual is said to drive away evil spirts. Christopher Mack visits the town of Suzu to document a traditional ceremony.
Community Gathering (03:02)
Suzu's streets are largely empty as residents attend the annual market; a welcome windfall for the local economy. The Noto Peninsula is rural and many people make their living as fishermen and rice growers.
Praying for the Kami (06:57)
Nature is important in Japan, where each natural phenomenon is said to be inhabited by a spirit. A Shinto priest demonstrates a ceremony he performs twice a month. He discusses the importance of rice, alluding to the Aenokoto ceremony.
Bounty of the Sea (05:44)
The sea provides food and defense from invaders. Restaurateurs bid on the day’s catch at the auction in Suzu. It takes a sushi chef 10 minutes to turn a freshly caught fish into a meal.
Public Baths (03:31)
It is traditional in Japan to welcome a visitor with the promise of a hot meal and a bath. An elderly man ponders why people still come to a public bathhouse.
Tea Ceremony (05:26)
The traditional ritual occurs at a Buddhist temple. There are a few variations to the ritual, but a novice will not notice subtle differences. Participants often communicate without words, though talking is allowed.
Suzu's Next Generation (02:59)
The city school only has 67 pupils; the school will eventually close as the town's population shrinks. Students who attend college in bigger cities often never return, endangering local traditions.
Craftsmen in Wajima use porous wood from Noto Peninsula forests to make one of the most prized lacquered bowls in Asia. A woman whose family has sold them for 150 years describes the process of applying lacquer.
Aenokoto Ceremony (09:40)
A young rice grower prepares to perform the traditional ceremony for the first time. It revolves around the farmer and his relationship with his kami. The ceremony occurs in two stages that take place in December and February.
Aenokoto Ceremony Conclusion (04:00)
The kami rest on a sacred tree branch. Accompanied by final offerings, they return to the rice field. Mack reflects on what he discovered while in Japan.
Credits: Japan: The Spirit of the Rice Field (00:49)
Credits: Japan: The Spirit of the Rice Field
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