Amountain chain runs down the middle of the main island of Honshu, Japan. Take a train in late winter from the green Southeast, where Tokyo is, to the Northwest, and you emerge from a tunnel under the mountains into a snow-covered land that you would not expect to be Japan’s rice bowl. This is Niigata, which, unlike many of Japan’s 47 prefectures, can grow just one crop of rice each year because of the harsh winters and an average annual snowfall of nearly 10 feet.But the relatively ...

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