So, on my initial blind playthrough of the game, I managed to get the Dragon's Homecoming ending, but there are some inconsistencies with how I got it and the steps listed here. - First, I got all of the necessary rice without eating any, though I did give 2 away to the two grannies that give hints about the fruits of the serpent. I ended up receiving four of the rice items throughout the play, and ended the game with 2 in my inventory. - Second, I never ate any rice balls Kuro gave to me, instead prompting a dialogue of not eating them in front of him, before returning after some time (perhaps a boss fight or more) and receiving another rice ball with unique item text. Based on this, I can confirm without a doubt that neither rice nor rice balls need to be eaten at all to progress this ending. It's important to note that I found the Holy Chapter: Infested after the Corrupted Monk boss fight, down in the Senpou Temple pool of water, and that I got both of the serpent viscera well before I knew what they were needed for. In fact, I had them both before I fought Owl, and also before I had the option to give a Persimmon to the Divine Child. I also gave a Taro Persimmon, which I received from Kotarou's side quest, to the Divine Child of Rejuvenation at one point, which may have prompted one of the additional rice servings. This entire run is recorded on twitch.tv/ciarantheblade if there is any question on the exact order of events I followed. In contrast, I completely missed the secret eavesdropping on Kuro and the entirety of the Father's Bell area. That***** is obscure.