Geographical review of Japan series B
Online ISSN : 1883-4396
ISSN-L : 1883-4396
Article of the Special Issue
Commodification of Rural Space and Changes in the Main Varieties of Paddy Rice in the Tohoku Region
NIHEI Takaaki
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2010 Volume 82 Issue 2 Pages 49-59


This study examines the mechanism of commodification in regional paddy rice production by focusing on the development and adoption of new varieties of rice. By presenting cases of the Tohoku region—one of the main paddy rice-producing regions in Japan—the spatial distribution of new rice varieties after the 1990s is recapitulated as follows: (1) at the regional level, distinct regional differentiation appeared with the emergence of main rice varieties in each prefecture; (2) at the prefecture level, planted areas of paddy rice decreased and the percentage of the main rice variety increased; and (3) throughout the regional and prefectural levels, the naming of new rice varieties was simplified and generalized. In the process of development and distribution of the new varieties of paddy rice, some conditions are considered as the commodification of the paddy rice-producing centers: (1) corresponding with recent market demands, new varieties with good flavor were constantly bred and spread; (2) values of some of the new varieties increased by being designated as “regional brand-name varieties”; and (3) the primary new rice varieties were introduced simultaneously by individual farms according to marketing strategies developed by prefectural and municipal administrations and agricultural cooperatives. As for future proposals, the regional rice-producing centers will have to cooperate with small and medium-size enterprises that have the singular technology to produce new varieties. Agricultural subsidies to address the aging of farmers and increasing idle farmland are also needed.

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© 2010 The Association of Japanese Geographers
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