Agricultural art

28 Aug 2009

Extraordinary murals have sprung up across paddy fields in Japan as farmers plant different colored rice to create stunning crop art. With no dye or ink, the artwork is created by planting the rice varieties in a strategic and precise pattern and waiting for the summer when the plants shoot up. The murals are created by planting four different rice varieties, including purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice and the local green-leafed tsugaru roman variety.

The tradition began in 1993 in Inakadate, north of Toyko, a village home to less than 9000 people, which now boasts the largest and finest artwork of its kind. The village has earned a reputation for its artistry, attracting over 150,000 visitors each summer to view the designs which cover more than 15 000 square meters of fields. The murals are invisible from ground level; viewers must climb the village’s castle tower to see the designs, sprung from rice planted by hundreds of volunteers and villagers months before.

Over the years, other villages across Japan have embraced this form of plant art. Images that can be seen across Japan include a Sengoku warrior on horseback, enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, and fictional warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife Osen.

Simone Gie
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