Aomori’s Inakadate Village continues to impress with rice paddy art
Stripes Japan | .
published: July 20, 2016
While a rural rice field in northern Japan might seem like the last place on earth to find groundbreaking modern art, Aomori Prefecture’s Inakadate Village boasts exactly that.
By now you may have heard of rice paddy art, created by transforming a typical rice field into a giant canvas. Rice plants of various colors are planted in patterns to form images of both traditional Japan and pop culture. Past themes have included The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Marilyn Monroe, Mt. Fuji, and Star Wars.
Inakadate Village pioneered rice paddy art and completed its first work in 1993, but the art form’s humble origins attracted relatively little attention. At first only three colors of rice plants were used to create a somewhat crude image of Mt. Iwaki, a mountain that towers over the region’s countryside and serves as a local symbol.
Over time the number of colors has increased to seven and the artwork has become increasingly detailed and complex. The images are now plotted and designed using perspective techniques to be viewed from the nearby observatory towers,
eliminating the elongating effect that occurs when viewing the fields from the side rather than from a bird’s eye view. Comparing works from the early 2000s to those of recent years reveals the rapid evolution of rice paddy art.
Inakadate Village’s rice paddy art has drawn international media attention and crowds of tourists from across the world. Inevitably, imitations have cropped up across Japan and the rest of Asia, but Inakadate Village remains the art form’s true home. Even the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited in September 2014. The village also offers rice planting and rice harvesting experiences every year, inviting the general public to join in the creation and destruction of the large-scale art.
The themes for this year’s art are “Sanada Maru,” a Japanese NHK TV drama, and “New Godzilla.” There are two fields that can be seen from separate observatory towers. The best time to check out the art is from mid-July to mid-August, when the colors are most vibrant, but you can see how the rice is coming along at any time by viewing the live camera feeds. A shuttle bus runs between the two locations, but be prepared to wait to get into the observatories.
Inakadate Village Rice Paddy Art
July 16 to Aug. 31: 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. last entry)
Sept. 1 to Oct. 10: 9 a.m. -5 p.m. (4:30 p.m. last entry)
Site 1, 4th floor deck: Adults 300 yen, elementary school students 100 yen
Site 1, 6th floor tower: Adults 200 yen, elementary school students 100 yen
Site 2: Adults 300 yen, elementary school students 100 yen
Younger than elementary school: Free admission
Aomori Prefecture can be reached by Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori Station
Shin-Aomori Station (JR Ou Line) → Hirosaki Station (Konan Railway)
→ Tanbo Art Station
Rice Field Art Site 1 – Sanada Maru
Inakadate Viewing Platform (Village Office)
Inakadate Minamitsugaru District, Aomori Prefecture 038-1113
Rice Field Art Site 2 – New Godzilla
Michi no Eki “Yayoi no Sato” (Yayoi no Sato Viewing Area)
Inakadate Village, Minamitsugaru District, Aomori Prefecture 038-1111
Live webcam feeds: