Feast as a Farming ‘Technique’ – Ethnohistorical Case Studies from Amami and Yaeyama Islands, Japan

Author(s): Leo Aoi Hosoya

Year: 2017


Since the role of feast as a calendar marker for farming communities was proposed by Bender in 1970s, ‘practical’ roles of feasts in production systems have been debated. In this paper, I argue that feasts can also considered as a farming 'technique' because they can substantially enable regular and continuous farming production by motivating and obliging people for the production, particularly in settings unfavorable for cultivation. In Japan, the southern Amami and Yaeyama Islands were governed by rulers since the Medieval period, and the history shows that when the ruling body well understood the local feasting culture and tactfully used it, its farming management went well, but when the ruling body failed to that, the management failed. The significance of feasting is so strong in local culture that people today still annually hold large-scale rice fertility festivals although their rice production practically stopped several decades ago due to environmental factors. Furthermore there are recent community movements to revive rice paddies to show their great cultural attachments to the practice. Based on those ethnohistorical case studies, I discuss the fundamental role of feasts.

Cite this Record

Feast as a Farming ‘Technique’ – Ethnohistorical Case Studies from Amami and Yaeyama Islands, Japan. Leo Aoi Hosoya. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430758)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16800