World History: Journey Across Time

Chapter 14: Medieval Japan

Student Web Activity

"Medieval Japan"

As you learned in this chapter, much of Japan's wealth came from the hard work of the country's farmers. During the Middle Ages, rice was Japan's chief crop. After hundreds of years, rice remains the most important crop. This single speck of grain has an amazing history and a promising future. In this activity, you will learn about the origin and production of rice, and the growing crisis that surrounds this crop and the promise it holds for Asia and Africa.

Visit the NOVA Online feature titled "Japan's Secret Garden, Miracle of Rice" to learn more about this crop that means so much to so many.

Destination Title:  Japan's Secret Garden, Miracle of Rice

Note: Clicking on the link above will launch a new browser window.
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Start at Japan's Secret Garden, Miracle of Rice.

  • Read about the origins of rice and how to "raise rice." Be sure to watch the video featuring the rice terraces at Japan's Lake Biwa. You'll also want to learn how to build a rice paddy.
  • Next, click on "Continue: Rice Crisis" at the bottom of the page to learn about the science behind rice.

After you've read about the Miracle of Rice, answer the following questions.

What percentage of the world's land is used to grow rice?
Japanese farmers build rice paddies on terraced sites. What are the three requirements for a good site?
Explain why rice is considered a symbol of Japanese independence.
Why must Asian rice production increase by 60 percent by the year 2020?
You are a researcher for an agricultural company. You must convince small farmers in rural Japan that genetically engineered rice is the answer to the rice crisis. Create a simple cause-and-effect chart outlining the problems associated with the rice crisis and the solutions that genetically modified rice could provide for Asia.
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