The annual Arao Rice Planting Festival allegedly has a history that stretches back some 1200 years, but it is still very much a local affair that warmly welcomes anyone who can attend. The small rice paddy next to the town's Hachiman Shrine is the location for event, which involves a select handful of female villagers and school-age volunteers planting the first few rows of rice shoots as a symbolic start to the growing season. This year, the ceremony began with a few dances performed by masked entertainers; the actual planting was then kicked off by popular prefectural mascot Kumamon.
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Arao Rice Planting Festival in Photos
Local festival to kick off the growing season