Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rice Paddy Field Art

In the small village of Inakadate, just half an hour from Hirosaki town in Aomori Japan, a work of art is being "grown" every year. While not in any English guidebooks I've seen, it attracts hundreds of thousands of local tourists each year.

Unlike crop circles where areas of the crop are being bent or tamped down, the art on the rice paddy fields of Inakadate uses "creation" vs "destruction". With planning, precision and patience, the art is literally being grown. Made up of 3 different types of rice (technically 4, including the green canvas), the rice are planted in May (with a festival I believe), and up until harvest time in September, the farmers of Inakadate can witness the growth of their field art. I visited in early August, and as you can see, the art is already fully visible. Every year, a different art is used, from samurai warriors to Mona Lisa portraits. The art fields can be viewed from the top of a mock castle tower that is part of the village office building.

For non Japanese speaking independent tourists, getting to the viewing tower may be alittle challenging. There is a Inakadate train station (on the Konan Rail line) which you can take to from Hirosaki station. From the small abandoned-looking Inakadate station, turn left onto the road as you exit the station and walk towards an intersection where there is a K-circle convenience store. From there, it's a straight 40min walk to reach the art fields. Along the way, I found that there is a bus from Hirosaki that stops just 5min from the site, so you may want to enquire about that in Hirosaki.

The rice paddy field art has grown over the years since it started in 1993, and the art has grown more complicated every year. They now use computers to help plot the art, and they've also started educating officials from other parts of Japan. In fact, I believe this year there is such a rice field art on display in Asahikawa in Hokkaido!

From what little info I gather from the internet, it was gratifying to be able to see these art in person. When you do pass by Aomori next time, do check out what art is on display on the Inakadate rice fields!

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