In historical anthropology, 'structure' is often assigned analytical and historical priority over event/practice which is seen to disrupt a solid structure. This article presents an alternative vision - structure is in constant motion even from the beginning, and events and practice by actors with their circumscribed power sometimes articulate an inchoate structure and other times help to facilitate changes already in motion in the structure itself. Historical changes are seen as a result of complementary forces of structure and event. The article also identifies some 'synchronic traps' in historical anthropology, such as an equation of myth and history and the use of 'historical metaphor' to synchronize history. This is done through a methodological comparison of a long-term study of the Japanese concepts of self and others - expressed through the twin metaphors of rice and rice paddies - with an analysis of the recent opening of the Japanese rice market in which historical metaphors played a significant role.