Inakadate, a village in Aomori at the north end of the Honshu mainland of Japan, has succeeded in revitalising itself by creating a unique form of landscape art in their rice paddies. Today, their rice paddy art attracts over 200,000 visitors a year to this small village with a population of only 8,000.
For generations, people in Inakadate have been making their living by farming. In contrast to the relatively small population, Inakadate has a massive amount of farmland which accounts for more than half of the entire land of the village. Thanks to its fertile land, Inakadate has attained the highest yield from its rice crop amongst all the villages and towns in Japan several times in recent years.
As an attempt to transform such an abundant production of rice into a tourist attraction, the village tourism office started holding a ‘rice farming tour’ in 1993. The tour offered participants an opportunity to experience the whole process of traditional rice farming from planting to reaping. To promote the tour, the tourism office drew huge characters of different colours onto the paddy at the back of the town hall. This was the beginning of Inakadate’s rice paddy art which has now become a core event for Inakadate’s tourism industry.
To create rice paddy art, famers combine a range of colorful rice strains along with the traditional green. These different varieties of rice grow naturally, without the use of artificial colorants. Tsugaru Roman, for instance, is green. Yukiasobi rice is white and Beniasobi rice is red. Other ancient strains of rice are used for purple and yellow. The rice paddy artists initially started with simple patterns, evolving to more complex and elaborate ones over time.
Rice Paddy Art in Inakadate Village, Aomori Prefecture is designed using perspective techniques to get a beautiful view of the artwork from the observatory and it is drawn by seven colors and 10 different types of rice strains. This artwork can be seen at the two different fields, No 1 and No 2. You can view the No.1 field from the observation deck of the town hall building which looks like a castle. Best time to visit is the middle of July – middle of August.