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Amazing Rice Paddy Art in Inakadate

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/12 Traditional Culture, Travel & View point , , , ,

People make art almost everywhere: canvasses, walls, streets, and rice fields. Wait, rice fields? Yes, you read it right. Rice paddy art or known as Tanbo art (田んぼアート) in Japan is the best thing to happen to rice fields before the rice are harvested and served on our plates.

Inakadate, Aomori

Inakadate is a village in Aomori Prefecture in the Tohoku region which is in northern part of Japan. You may have heard about the Tohoku Region from the news. It is where Fukushima, the city which was affected by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, is located.

The Beginning of Tanbo Art

Back to Inakadate, the town was only known before as a rice production village until such time in 1993 where people thought a way how to boost their tourism. They were successful to do it so through adding art to rice production. And that’s how Tanbo Art started. Every year since then, people in Inakadate caters around 150,000 visitors. That’s a great number of visitors for a village with only 8,700 inhabitants.

To make this Rice Paddy Art, farmers use different varieties of rice to produce hues of brown and green.

A closer look at the rice stalks. Some stalks have bright green color while others are dark and brown.


A work-in-progress Rice Paddy Art. Designs can’t be fully seen yet.

A rice paddy art depicting the family of Sazae-san. Sazae-san holds the Guinness World Record of longest-running animated series. It now has more than 7,100 episodes. In the first few years of this tradition, the Rice Paddy Art only have simple designs and later became complicated and more visually-appealing as seen from these images from this year:

The finished Sazae-san art. The ザ (za) is missing though. (Image from @potepotelong)

Also present in this year’s Rice Paddy Art was the recently recognized UNESCO World Heritage site, Mt. Fuji.

Right side: Mt. Fuji. Left side: a character in the Japanese legend Hagoromo

A closer look at the Hagoromo image.

The Rice Paddy Art of Inakadate also influence other towns to create one of their own. Just like this one from Okayama:

A Naruto Rice Field Art in Mimasaka, Okayama. Okayama is where the creator of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto was born.

And this one from Yomezawa in Yamagata Prefecture:

Date Masamune Tanbo Art

A Date Masamune rice paddy art. Date Masamune is a samurai and feudal lord in Azuchi-Momoyama period through early Edo period. He is also the founder of the city of Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture. (Image from contri on Flickr)

To get a glimpse of how a rice field will turn into a great masterpiece, check this timelapse video from Youtube user pinktentacle3:

If you are planning to see for yourself the beauty of this Rice Paddy Art, visit Inakadate in summer.

Sources:
  1. Bizarre spectacle of the giant crop murals covering rice fields in Japan
  2. Atlas Obscura: Inakadate Tanbo Art
  3. The Culture Trip: Japan’s Rice Paddy Art: Revitalising the Village
  4. Kotaku: Don’t Worry, Japanese Rice Paddy Art Is Still Incredible
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