Using a Rice Paddy as a Giant Art Canvas? Check Out Rice Paddy Art in Inakadate, Aomori Prefecture!

What is Rice Paddy Art?

“Star Wars” rice paddy art
“Star Wars” rice paddy art

Rice paddy art is an technique unique to Japan which entails selecting a good paddy for a canvas and planting seeds of different colors to create a picture.
This form of art began in Inakadate village, Aomori Prefecture, in 1993 as a means of regional economic revitalization.

Rice paddy art is created in two districts of the village. The first district has a paddy measuring 143m (469 ft.) by 103m (337 ft.), offering a massive canvas spanning 1.5ha (3.7 ac).
Past subjects have come from a wide variety of genres – reproductions of great artworks, characters from Japanese folklore, and images from famous movies and anime. Each year has a set theme. 2017’s motif is Japanese fairytales and legends.

Rice plant seedlings of various colors used for rice paddy art
(C) Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center
Rice plant seedlings of various colors used for rice paddy art

The rice plants used to create these amazing pictures are a combination of standard plants used for edible rice, and ornamental varieties grown since ancient times.
The palette includes ten strains of rice plant producing seven colors: green, yellowish-green, yellow, deep violet, white, orange, and red.

After deciding on an image, a rough sketch is made which is then elongated to compensate for viewing the finished work from an elevated, low-angle perspective.
Based on the final design, different varieties of rice plant are selected accordingly. Stakes are driven into the paddy and sectioned off with rope for each colored area of the image.
By early summer, the plants mature and the picture materializes!

You can see rice paddy art from around June to October, but the best season to view the colors at their most vivid is July to August.

Iconic image from the classic film “Gone with the Wind”
Iconic image from the classic film “Gone with the Wind”

Rice paddy art in Inakadate village[Getting There]

(From major cities by train)

From JR Tokyo station take the Tohoku shinkansen (bullet train) to JR Shin-Aomori station. Transfer to the JR Ou line to Hirosaki station. Total journey time approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes.

(Via Aomori airport)

From Aomori airport take the shuttle bus to JR Hirosaki station (approximately 1 hour).

For transportation information from JR Hirosaki station to the rice paddy art locations, please see the link below.

After Viewing Rice Paddy Art, Sample the Local Cuisine

Tsugaru region’s local cuisine
Tsugaru region’s local cuisine

Along your journey, make sure to stop in at some of the delicious restaurants around Hirosaki station.
And once you reach Inakadate you must sample some of the Tsugaru region’s local cuisine.
You’ll love the “scallop shell miso hot pot” which uses a real scallop shell to cook a delicious mix of dashi, miso, scallop, egg and onion.
Another signature dish is “keno broth”. Japanese radish, carrot, burdock root, mountain vegetables, deep-fried bean curd and freeze-dried tofu are simmered in miso-flavored broth. It goes great with Japan’s delicious white rice.

Over 350,000 people a year visit Inakadate to see its famed rice paddy art. Created through the power of nature and local residents’ spirit, these grand-scale works of art are even more impressive in person.