National Geographic : 1994 May
COLOSSAL STSANI ofriceJtrawentwneoveran entrance to the Izumo Shinto shrine, one of Japan's oldest. Denoting a sacred place, the rice-straw rope-or shimenawa-is the world's largest at six metric tons. Grown inJapan for more than 2,000 years, rice is woven through culture, diet, even politics. Small shimenawa often hang over doorways to ward off evil. One evil the nation cannot stop: skimpy harvests, which in 1993 forced Japan to ease its sacrosanct restrictions on rice imports.