January 6, 2009

Inkadate - Rice Field Art

Rice farmers in Inkadate, Japan plant rice pictures, some are amazing.

Others are commerical, but awesome.

WIshing everyone a wonderfull great New Year.
I'm busy working on my gardening book ( more on that later), and back to work this week, so I've been behind ( or I took a tiny leave) from the Blog posting. To hold you all over, here are some interesting photos from Flickr of inkadate, a rather new trend in Japan of planting rice varieties which grow in different colors, in rice fields. Farmers either rent their fields out as advertising, or they hire artists to make an installation. Rather nice, but so typically Japanese-ly strange.

Here are what some have written about the trend in Japan.

In the Japanese village of Inakadate in the Aomori prefecgture,villagers plant ancient varieties of rice. The green areas are tsugaru-roman, the local variety while the purple yellow and red areas consist of kodaimai, or ancient strains of rice.

Inkadate Rice Fields is rather new, trend-wise. Not unlike corn paintings and crop circles, the ingenious farmers from Inakadate started planting artistic rice fields in 1993 after one farmer started and gained much publicity. While the INKADATE has earned the title of the most popular town when it comes to decorating rice paddies, the small Japanese town is not alone. Farmers in Yonezawa, from the Yamagata Prefecture, as well as farmers from Nishio, in the Aichi Prefecture, plant artistic crops as well. Their works are incredible, but still pale in comparison next to the portraits painstakingly planted by the Inakadate farmers.

Most Rice fields in Japan, and throughout much of Asia, are much more than a simple place to grow food. In some cultures, whether or not a farmer owns land on which to cultivate rice is symbolic of his stature in the class system and overall social hierarchy. They spend hours of time not only in the fields, but also blessing and decorating the granaries within which they’ll store the rice once it has been harvested.

Today, modern technology has replaced some of the older traditions. Farmers aren’t as likely to conduct religious rituals in the fields or harvest their crops by hand. They instead embrace their culture by spending countless hours planning the layouts for rice fields that, in some cases, challenge the dedication of some of today’s finest modern artists.
In the case of Inakadate, however, the project originally simply came about as part of a revitalization effort designed to help enhance the beauty of their small village- checking in with only 8,700 residents. They started with simple designs, such as a picture of Mount Iwaki, but later began challenging themselves as their skills grew and they became more confident in their work.
In 2007, they attempted to recreate some of the famous woodblock prints created by Katsushika Hokusai in his series known as “Fugaku Sanjurokke,” which translates to “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.” There are not enough words to describe the results of their marvelous efforts.
So how do they do it? Japanese farmers commonly grow a variety of rice, called tsugaru-roman, which buds with green leaves. In order to design their crop art, they include kodaimai rice, which grows with purple and yellow leaves and provides the contrast needed to create lines and depth within the work of art. Some farmers incorporate brown and yellow rice into their field art as well.


  1. Very interesting post. Love the photos.

  2. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Wait until the Dutch start doing it with tulips! Imagine the abstractions that they could do.

  3. superboy6:54 AM

    Check this Rice Art out, can you believe people have so much time to write name on rice grain, man that is steady hands. Some people actually think it brings goodluck, pendants, jewelry and what not Rice art

  4. What a wonderful set of photos that I've not seen before on this incredible rice art. The world truly is "made by artists."

    Thanks for posting! Plus love the comment about "wait until the Dutch do this with tulips." Wow!

  5. Wow Amazing Nice Work ........

  6. Such pretty art work


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