“In Japan, o-kome, or “honorable rice,” is much more than a commodity. In the Shinto religion, sake, rice cakes, and other rice products are the most sacred of offerings, and to a nation that must import most of its meat, fish, and fruit, rice is a symbol of independence. Indeed, as a matter of tradition, the Japanese government strictly prohibits the import of rice as long as local crops provide harvests bountiful enough to satisfy the national appetite.”
— From Japan’s Secret Garden, The PBS Channel
Rice straw is an important part of this Shogatsu-New Year decoration – a symbol of fertility and prosperity.