HACHISU- the seed cases of lotus plants make beautiful seasonal decorations- but might lead to flooding as they clog drainage canals near Hojo, Tsukuba
By Avi Landau
One of the points of pride of traditional Japanese culture is that nothing was ever wasted. This is especially brought up when the whaling issue is being discussed. The Japanese never fail (it seems) to point out that every single part of the whale was used for one purpose or another.
Interestingly this does not seem to hold true in the case of lotus root production with lotus root- in which Ibaraki happens to be the number one producer of all Japan`s prefectures.
Not only are thousands of aquatic and other birds slowly and senselessl killed in the nets set up to ostensibly protect the lotus fields (even though the birds DO NOT actually do much damage)- but the most delicious part of the plant- its seeds- are neither harvested nor eaten.
For many who have tasted these delcious seeds, which are important in the food cultures of many Asian countries (and in Columbia as well). They are also used as a traditional as a Chinese medicine (see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_seed ).
In Ibaraki`s lotus fields, however, the seed pods are just left to dry out- and they do become quite beautiful as they do- making it seems as if there is a crazed field of floating wasp nests! These are often used as seasonal decorations in Japan, and can also sometimes be seen as part of an autumnal flower arrangement.
The farmers cut away all the stems, dried out leaves in autumn, and the seeds cases come off with these as well.
This autumn, however, with its continuous procession of typhoons and rainy days, I have noticed something unusual and potentially dangerous on my walks around Tsukuba and Tsuchiura- many drainage canals have becomes completely clogged up with the lotus seed cases as they have been washed out of their fields by the heavy rains.
I reported this to certain specialists and they were concerned that the blockage might lead to flooding when the next typhoon hits this weekend. I hope that they get cleaned out in time!
Read more about the deadly nets in Tsuchiura city
and the effort to protect them:
and more of what I have written about lotus flowers in Japan and Japanese culture: