A company that operates a ski resort in Japan regularly uses its chairlift to dry sheaves of rice.
The Ishiuchi-Maruyama Resort trademarked the name "Sky Rice" (tenku-mai) for the Koshihikari rice harvested in Minami-Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture.
An employee of Japan Lift Service, which runs the resort, suggested the idea. The employee grew up farming rice before joining the company. JLS started the sun-dried rice-on-a-lift idea in 2004.
Hanging rice to dry rather than using a combine harvester results in a moister rice grain with a distinct flavor. The 800 meter ski lift goes into normal use when the Ishiuchi ski season begins in the middle of December.
photos: blue sky; indoors, Liftman ; valley Ishiuchi-Maruyama