Have you ever heard of Rice Paddy Art? It is a kind of art that uses various colored varieties of rice-plant as paint on a rice-field canvas. I first saw rice paddy art on the internet and was desperate to see it, but due to my lack of knowledge about Japan at that time, I didn’t have the confidence to set-out on my own. Then, after living in Sendai (the biggest city in the Tohoku area) for a while, my friends persuaded me to visit some Rice paddy field in Iwate prefecture. I was so surprised because I hadn’t realised how close it is, and how easy it is to get there! Here are some pictures of the rice paddy art I was lucky to visit in Iwate.
Actually, there are examples of Rice Paddy Art in each prefecture of Tohoku (Miyagi, Akita, Aomori, Yamagata, Fukushima, and Iwate). The most famous spot to see it is in Inakadate village located in Aomori prefecture. Now, you may wonder what is the inspiration that led them to start making these larger-than-life creations. Starting in 1993, special tours to experience rice planning were a popular attraction to give visitors the opportunity to experience traditional rice farming done by hand. The next progression of this activite was to create art at the same time as planting the rice, in order to attract more tourists to the Aomori countryside.
So just how do they create this amazing paddy art? First, they need to decide on a design, draw a sketch of the design and revise it’s scale to create three-dimensional perspective. After that, different varieties of rice plant are chosen to use in the design. Most often used varieties inclue a purple rice called murasakiine, a yellow rice called kiine, a local Aomori rice called Tsugaru Roman, a red rice, yukiasobi which has whilte leaves and the red-tipped iwaiakane. You may be surprised to known that the colours of each artwork are entirely natural – no chemical agents are used here. Some people think that the art is created by dying the rice by chemical color. I personally am astounded by the extreme effort required to successfully compelte this art. Not only do they have to complete the tedious task of planting millions of small seeds across a huge rice paddy, they need serious control and concentration to ensure each seed is placed correctly because the art cannot be edited after planting is complete (of course). Due to its beauty and uniqueness, rice paddy art has attracted crowds of both Japanese and international visitors – more than 100,000 people every year!
I can assure you that the creativity of each elaborate art work is so worth the trip to see it! Here are some examples of the art from Inakadate village in Aomori.
Address: Inakadatemura yakuba 123-1 Inakadatemura ooaza inakadate aza nakatsuji, Aomori
Fly from Haneda Airport to Aomori (one hour and 15 minutes), then take a bus to Hirosaki (60 minutes). From Hirosaki, take the Kōnan Tetsudo Line to Inakadate Station (24 minutes)
Take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori station (three hours, 37 minutes), then take the Ōu Line to Hirosaki (36 minutes) and then on to Inakadate Station.
There are two Tambo Art fields, and both are about a five-minute taxi ride from Inakadate Station. The first field is on the east side of Inakadate City Hall, and the second field is located at the “Michi no Eki” at Inakadate Yayoi no Sato.
If you plan to travel to many different places in Tohoku and want to enjoy the beauty of nature, you can rent a car (highly recommended). I think Tohoku is good for car-driving trip because the traffic is not congested and you can discover lots of unique places along the way.
Opening Hours: May 30 to Jul. 15 and Sep. 1 to Oct. 10
09:00-17:00 (Jul. 6 – Aug. 31: 8:30-18:00)
Closed: Oct.11 to May 29
Best season: August and September
Fee: Adults: 300 yen, elementary school students: 100 yen
Place to stay:
Since there is no hotel in Inakadate village, you can stay nearby in Kuroishi City or Hirakawa City. Here I found some interested hotel/hot spring.
- Minamida Onsen Hotel Appleland (15 minutes walk from Hiraka Station on Konan railway’s Konan line) : This hotel is famous for all-year-round apple bath hot spring which was said to be good for your skin. You can mentally and physically relax from the sweet apple scent. Yukata are available for guests to wear during their stay.
Facilities: Communal bath, open-air bath and sauna