I went to see two rice-planting festivals in Shiga, for the first time.
The first one was in Yasu on May 25, 2008. It’s held on the fourth Sunday in May in a sacred rice paddy near Mikami Shrine. Women and men in colorful costumes plant rice seedlings accompanied by singing, taiko drumming, and dancing. Started at 10 am with a Shinto ceremony, then the rice planting was held from 10:30 am to 11 am. The rice paddy is called Yuki Saiden (悠紀斎田記念田) which was the used to produce the rice used for the Showa Emperor Hirohito’s accession to the throne in 1928. It was a scenic area with Mt. Mikami in the background. Near Yamade-mae bus stop near the foot of Mt. Mikami. More photos here. Video link: http://youtu.be/JlETZh-jh7k
The second rice-planting festival was at Taga Taisha Shrine on June 1, 2008. It was more elaborate than at Yasu, with stage performances of taiko drumming and sacred dances. But they required a 500 yen donation to watch the rice-planting. It started at 1:15 pm and ended at 3 pm. The rice paddies were left unfinished though. More photos here. Video link: http://youtu.be/mbZbS9dYZmI