Rice fields of Japan bloom with not just harvest but intricate designs of rice art, famously known as the Tanbo Art
Rice is not just a savoury snack but also a medium to create art in Japan. Popularly known as the Tanbo Art, several acres of rice paddy fields are planted with different coloured rice plants to grow into giant masterpiece of organic land art. Dating back to 1993, this particular art pertains to the Inakadate Village, situated in Aomori, which is 600 miles north of Tokyo. This practice was primarily undertaken to promote and revitalise the village’s rural economy through tourism.
Now, every year in April, 800 volunteers start with the task of planting the canvas. Making a transition from simple pictures, this art has evolved into intricate classical art pieces like Mona Lisa and images of historical figures such as Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe, et al. Evolving with time, several TV and film personalities were beautifully planted on these rice paddy fields. The designs included Masao Kusakari and Koji Yamamotoin 2015, Star Wars Theme in 2016 and Godzilla, making it an international attraction.
Computer-generated designs are replicated on the paddy fields with ‘yellow leafed kodaimai rice’, ‘red beni miyako’ and ‘greenleafed tsugaru’ roman varieties along with other genetically engineered technicolour rice strains for dramatic effects.
Following Inakadate’s example, other villages, like Yonezawa in Yamagata prefecture, have started to use folkloric as well as modern youth pop culture themes. A special railway station has been built to cater to the 20,000 populace coming to this village to witness this marvel. On an estimate, the paddy art cost around $35,000 per year to rent, plant and maintain and brings in nearly $70,000 in revenue from tourists. All the earnings are purely donation basis as no charges are levied to view the paddy art.
If you are influenced enough to lend a hand in creating such masterpieces, there’s good news. Anyone who helps planting this canvas in the field gets to relish a wholesome authentic Japanese lunch of Onigiri rice balls abd Tonjiru Miso soup provided by the villagers.