From the ground it just looks like rice shoots …but climb the specially built viewing platforms and the rice paddy fields of Inakate, Japan are transformed into art masterpieces. This rice is too beautiful to eat.
Every March, Inakate, in the Amori Province holds its annual Rice Festival. An ingenious art meets nature solution to the problem of attracting tourists.
“Village officials saw elementary school kids planting rice by hand, when they saw that hey thought this could be a good idea..” explains Yukio Kasia, Vice Mayor of Inakadage, Japan
“There is a conference to decide what kinds of designs we should create for the next year. Ten village officials create a simple computer mockup, and from there we ask art teachers to make detailed conceptual drawings. Then finally officials go into the fields and put markers down. They have to think about which rice plant to use to get the right colour. They they plant. It takes about three months from deciding the designs to planting the rice.”
Rice paddy art is made using seven different coloured rice plants. 2017 included designs of Yamata no Orochi – an eight forked serpent – and Susanoo, the Shinto God of the Sea and Storms. Previous years have featured Star Wars characters and even Marilyn Monroe.
The first design was of the local mountain Mount Iwaki and the name of the village below it. But since then the designs have got way more sophisticated.
“We didn’t think it would become as popular as it is now. Now people everywhere from Tokyo to Osaka associate Inakadate as the village with rice paddy art,” says the very proud Yukio Kasa.