Inakadate Rice Paddy Art

2007 - Katsushika Hokusai famous "Fugaku Sanjurokkei" or "Into the Great Wave" from his Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji

Photos Courtesy of Yoko Hani

400 miles north of Tokyo in the remote village Inakadate nestled in the Aomori Prefecture lives a collective of rice farmers descended from generations of rice farmers.  These people know how to farm rice.  In 1993, in an effort to breath new life into a dying town, they began forming a union between the rice paddy owners to create living art by planting four species of different colored leaf rice plants in precise locations.  The result, massive canvas’ of paddies depicting some of the most well known chinese block prints ever.

2005 - "Ukiyo-e" or "Pictures of the Floating World" works by Sharaku and Utamaro

Originally mapping the fields out with paper and pen, today the town employs GPS and satellite imagery with precise computer calculation to create more exact replicas with more “dots” of rice per acre, therefor cleaner pictures.  They’ve even erected a 75 ft. observatory so visitors can appreciate their homages to the great artists of Chinese history.

The massive pieces take over 700 people to help plant after groups of men walk about the fields fixing over 6,000 reed sticks with plastic tape to map out the planting zones; the planting of the rice itself takes only 3 days.  Over the last few years the tiny village of 8,700 people has become a tourist destination, attracting over 200,000 visitors each growing season.

2006 - "Fujin Raijin Zu Byobu" (Wind God and Thunder God Screens)

Conceptually I’m awed by the scale of these natural masterpieces.  What an amazing idea to take something as basic and utilitarian as a rice field and with careful planning turn it into a living (if only temporary) canvas.

2008 - Harvesting the Paddy

2009 - Sengoku Warrior

The improvement in detail they’re achieving every year is amazing, can’t wait to see what they plant next year!  Here’s a view of the planting process.

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