Paddy field

From Academic Kids

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A rice paddy in Japan

A paddy field is a flooded parcel of farmland for growing rice (from the Malaysian word 'padi', a noun meaning 'growing rice'). Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice-growing countries of East and Southeast Asia, such as China, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They can occur naturally along rivers, or can be constructed, often with great input of labor and materials, even on hillsides. They require copious quantities of water for irrigation, and in countries with highly developed systems of paddy fields, the irrigation can be quite complex. Flooding provides water essential to the growth of the crop. It also gives an environment favorable to the strain of rice being grown, and is hostile to many species of weeds.

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Paddy field prior to planting, in Taiwan



The acidic soil common throughout Japan as results of volcanic eruptions made the paddy field the most productive farming method. Until recently, this had led to a conclusion that no farming had existed before rice came from China. This was overturned in the late 20th century with discoveries of farming from late Jomon period but paddy field represented by the kanji, 田(commonly read as ta) that had a strong influence on Japanese culture. A testimonial fact is that 田 means a piece of farmland where crops are grown, in China but it is used to represent only the paddy field in Japan. Instead, Japanese made a new kanji 畑(hatake) for those farmland not used to grow rice. Many consider a paddy field as a part of the natural landscape and the classic scenary of countryside is that of paddy field tended by hardworking grandparents. The oldest sample of writing that had been recovered is widely credited to the letter 田, lit. rice paddy field found on a pottery in an archeaological site the present day Matsusaka, Mie that dates back to late two century.

Ta(田) is used as a part of a name in many places as well as in many family names. Most of these places are somehow related to the paddy field and in many cases, are based on the history of a particular location. For example, where a river runs through a village, the place east of river may be called Higashida(東田), lit. east paddy field and the opposite side Nishida(西田), lit. west paddy field. A place with a newly irrgated paddy field, especially those during or later than Edo period, may be called Nitta or Shinden (both 新田), lit. new paddy field. In some places, lakes and marshes were likened to a paddy field and were named with ta, like Hakkōda(八甲田).

Many family names have ta as a part. On early Meiji period, the government ordered that all Japanese to have a family name and many chose to have one based on or near the place they lived or the job they had. With nearly three fourth of population being farmers, many family names were made using ta. Some of such family names are Tanaka(田中) and Nakata(中田), lit. middle of paddy field, Kawata(川田), lit. paddy field by a river, and Furuta(古田), lit. old paddy field.




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