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The lotus is a perennial aquatic plant. It bears a large pink or white flower, 20cm in diameter, on a straight stem standing proud of the water. The lotus is distributed widely in the tropical zone of Asia and Australia and it is cultivated in the temperate zones; it also grows wild. The fruit, oval in shape and 2cm long, sinks into the water on ripening. The hard black outer husk contains a white seed and green germule.
The longevity of lotus seed is remarkable; a seed considered to be over 5,000 years old has germinated successfully and produced buds. Although the lotus has a long history in Japan as a decorative plant – over 100 varieties were cultivated during the Edo period (1603-1867) – it is mainly grown today for its food value. The root, the de-husked fruit and the young shoots are edible. The seeds can be made into beads.
Rice and wheat are the principal cereals in the world at this time and about 90% of the world production of rice comes from Asian countries. The total production in 1968 amounted to 284 million tons of unhulled rice, of which Japan produced 18.8 million tons, a quantity exceeding domestic consumption.
There are two main classifications of rice: Oryza sativa japonica and O. sativa indica. The japonica type has a higher yield and is more responsive to fertilizers; the grain is short and round. Indica varieties are taller, strongly resistant to disease and pests but relatively low in yield; the grain is relatively long. Japonica varieties are grown in Japan and surrounding areas, including northern China, also in Egypt, the United State and parts of Europe. Indicas are grown in southeast Asia from India to the central area of China. In recent years, indicas and japonicas and different varieties of each have been crossed in an attempt to eliminate or minimize their individual disadvantages and these efforts have met with some degree of success in certain areas.
The endosperm remaining after rice is hulled is composed of starch and some protein; the amino-acid content is thought to be similar to that of other cereals. However, the milling process, which removes the bran and germ, eliminates many of the nutrients present in whole rice. In Japan, rice bran is used as feed for livestock and the oil extracted from it is used by the oil and soap industries. Rice straw has provided the material for building, packing and other domestic needs. About 95% of the non-glutinous rice harvested in Japan is used as staple food; the remainder is used for brewing various kinds of sake, for vinegar, miso, shoyu and other processed foods.
Glutinous rice, which differs in amino-acid content from non-glutinous rice, is important in the preparation of Japanese confectionery such as senbei (rice crackers) and mochi (rice cake).
Suitable temperature for germination : 30-35 ºC (Min. 10- 12 ºC; Max. 40 ºC)
Due to its geographical distribution and diversity of climate and topography, Japan contains an abundance of flora among which there are a great many varieties. Conifers, in particular, are typical of the Japanese landscape from the semi-tropical south to the far north and their timber is essential to many facets of Japanese life, both traditional and modern. The Japanese word todomatsu is used rather freely to describe both red fir and blue fir. The former, which is found in Hokkaido and the southern Kurile islands, grows to 25 metres in height and 60cm diameter. The latter, the blue fir, grows to 30 metres in height and 1 metre in diameter and it is a native of southern Sakhalin and Hokkaido. There are many varieties among these two trees and some defy classification. Each year, some 100 million cubic metres of fir timber is shipped from Hokkaido for a wide variety of domestic and industrial uses.
The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.
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