The fruit of the wisdom and ideas of Japanese people
Terraced rice fields are common in Japan’s mountainous countryside, where agriculture has been active for thousands of years. They are built in stair-like tiers along the slope of a mountain or a valley and are often called “Senmaida”, or thousand rice fields, because the field is divided into many small sections. Stones and mud are used to separate the sections and prevent the water from leaking out of them. Stone masonry barriers are used more often in Western Japan and mud and soil are used in Eastern Japan.
In order to grow as much rice as possible in a small area, Japanese people created terraced rice fields by carefully considering the sun exposure and waterways. Because of this, you see each paddy field shining as it reflects the setting sun in the Spring. Terraced rice fields are a beautiful scenery born of necessity and practical agriculture.
A gallery of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter
The look of a terraced rice field changes with the seasons. In Spring, when the fields are filled with water, the glassy surface of the water reflects the sky and the surrounding scenery. Summer is a vibrant season when the rice fields and the surrounding mountains all turn green. Autumn is the harvest season when ripe golden ears of rice sway like waves in the Autumn wind. In Winter, terraced rice fields in snowy climates look completely different.
Top 6 choices of beautiful terraced rice fields in Japan
We will introduce our top 6 recommended terraced rice fields to visit in Japan.
Kamogawa Oyama Senmaida (Kamogawa City, Chiba Prefecture)
The closest terraced rice fields from Tokyo. The only one in Japan that grows rice only with rainwater and is also known for the beautifully curved ridges. The fields are lit up from mid- October through early January every year.
Kamogawa Oyama Senmaida
Address: (Tanada Club) 540 Hiratsuka, Kamogawa City, Chiba Prefecture
Access: Take the city bus for “Hiratsuka Hongo Iki” or “Tokyowan Ferry Iki” from Awakamogawa Station, get off at “Kamanuma Bus Stop” and walk for about 20 minutes.
Shiroyone Senmaida (Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture)
Take in the grand sight of a terraced rice field, with more than 1,000 sections, facing the ocean. The field is lit up during “Aze no Kirameki”, a large-scale illumination event that uses LED lights held from mid-October through mid-March every year.
Address: Shiroyone-machi, Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture
Access: Take Hokutetsu Okunoto Bus “Machino-sen” line from JR Wajima Station, get off at “Shiroyone Bus Stop” and walk for 1 minute.
Obasute Tanada (Chikuma City, Nagano Prefecture)
Vast terraced rice fields of about 1,500 paddy fields on a 25 hectare wide slope. This place is known for the historic terraced rice fields and poems written about 400 years ago depict the scenery of the bright moon reflected on the surface of the rice fields filled with water.
Address: Yawata Obasute, Chikuma City, Nagano Prefecture
Access: 20 min. walk from JR Obasute Station
Maruyama Senmaida (Kumano City, Mie Prefecture)
The sight of a terraced rice field with 1,340 sections lined up on a 100-meter tall slope is overwhelming. This is said to be the best example of a terraced rice field in Japan, with a large number of sections that spread out as far as the eye can see.
Address: Maruyama, Kiwa-cho, Kumano City, Mie Prefecture
Access: Take Kumanokodo Seiryuso Line Bus for “Seiryuso Homen” from JR Kumanoshi Station, get off at “Senmaida/ Toritoge-Iriguchi Bus Stop” and walk for 30 minutes.
Kanzaiko Tanada (Yusuhara-cho, Kochi Prefecture)
The town of Yusuhara-cho is called a town above the clouds. The tiers of the terraced rice field in this town are very spread apart and you can enjoy the imposing view of such a tall structure. This magnificent structure was created by the pioneers who carried stones from the river far below and piled them up the mountain one by one.
Address: Kanzaiko, Yusuhara-cho, Takaoka-gun, Kochi Prefecture
Access: Take Kochi Koryo Kotsu Bus “Yusuhara-sen” line from JR Susaki Station and near “Kanzaiko Bus Stop”
Hamanoura Tanada (Genkai-cho, Saga Prefecture)
There is a lookout point where you can look down on this terraced rice field and see its many layers as if they are stairs that run up from the seashore. You can enjoy a fantastic scenery when the setting sun is reflected on the ocean.
Address: Hamanoura, Genkai-cho, Higashi-Matsuura-gun, Saga Prefecture
Access: Take Showa Bus from JR Karatsu Station, get off at “Hamanoura” bus stop and walk for 1 minute.