I am moving this question from Movies.SE in hope of getting the answer here
The movie The Blind Swordsman Zaitochi (2003) takes places somewhere in a small town in Japan, probably around the 19th century (one of the characters tries to shoot using a revolver). During the movie, the main character witnesses a procession carrying hay effigies, that are later placed on the fields:
Initially I thought that they are just scarecrows, but the whole procession (and a bit of reverence when the main character picks up the fallen effigy) suggests that they might have a bigger cultural or religious meaning.
What are those effigies? What do they represent and what is their purpose? If they are just scarecrows, why there is such a huge ceremony involved?