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Painted With Rice Plants! Go See Tanbo Art When in Japan

There are many tourist sites in Japan. Among them, tanbo art has become particularly popular recently. Tanbo art is a form of art unique to Japan, where rice is a staple food. But what is exactly is it?

What is Tanbo Art?

Tanbo art takes rice paddies (tanbo) as the canvases on which to create giant paintings with different-colored rice plants. Seedlings that will grow to have leaves and florets of various colors (such as green, purple, and yellow) are planted in accordance with a plan to have a vivid picture appear as the plants grow. The colors of the art pieces change with the seasons.

Inakadate Village (Aomori Prefecture)

Tanbo art started at Inakadate in Aomori Prefecture. Some pictures that have been created so far include movie characters, Mona Lisa, famous Japanese warrior lords, Napoleon, courtesans and Hollywood stars. It attracts 100,000 to 200,000 visitors every year. The art is displayed in two locations: The Inakadate Village Office and Michi-no-Eki Inakadate Yayoi-no-Sato.

2017 Display Period: Until October 9 (Mon, which is a public holiday) at both locations
Viewing Fees Example:
From the 4th floor observation deck of Inakadate Village Office:
(Adults [junior high school or older]) 300 JPY
(Elementary School Students) 100 JPY
(Preschool or younger) Free

Inakadate Village (Aomori Prefecture)

123-1 Aza Nakatsuji, Oaza Inakadate, Inakadate-mura, Minamitsugaru-gun, Aomori

Gyoda City (Saitama Prefecture)

Gyoda City in Saitama has been recognized by the Guinness Book for having the world’s largest rice field art (official record: 27,195sq.m.). It celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017. The huge rice field painting can be seen from the observatory of Kodai Hasu Kaikan in Kodai Hasu no Sato Park. The theme for 2017 is the guardian deity for rice paddies, Inadahime-no-Mikoto and her husband, Susano-no-Mikoto

2017 Display Period: Until late October
Viewing Fees: (Adults [high school or older]) 400 JPY
(Children [elementary and junior high]) 200 JPY

Gyoda City (Saitama Prefecture)

2375-1 Oaza Kobari, Gyoda-shi, Saitama

Yonezawa City (Yamagata Prefecture)

Next up is the tanbo art at Yonezawa City in Yamagata Prefecture. Past tanbo art here has depicted warrior lords with ties to the area, as well as protagonists of popular historical TV series. The 2017 art commemorates the 450th anniversary of the birth of Date Masamune, a famous Sengoku Era warrior lord from Yonezawa. The site is surrounded by rustic scenery and is close to Onogawa Onsen (hot spring).

2017 Viewing Period: Until early October

Yonezawa City (Yamagata Prefecture)

2949-1 Oaza Yanazawa, Yonezawa-shi, Yamagata

Oshu City (Iwate Prefecture)

Next up is tanbo art from Mizusawa Ward in Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture. Past tanbo art here has depicted ukiyo-e woodblock prints and regional performance arts. In 2017, the 10th anniversary will be celebrated with the depiction of a scene from a kabuki play. Another rice paddy shows Anpanman, a character from the popular animation with the same name. The best time to see the art is in mid-August, but it will remain until harvest time in mid-October.

Oshu City (Iwate Prefecture)

Aza Kitada Jinai, Sakurakawa, Mizusawa-ku, Oshu-shi, Iwate

Higashi Takasu-cho, Asahikawa City (Hokkaido)

The last item on the list is tanbo art from Asahikawa City in Hokkaido. The drawings are depicted on a field that is 40m by 170m. Many of the drawings depict animals from the popular Asahiyama Zoo in the city, and the 2017 theme is "nocturnal animals". Animals such as snow leopards, wolves, Hokkaido sika (deer) and red pandas are depicted. Although the best time to see the drawings is between early July and mid-August, they should be visible till harvest time in early October.

Higashi Takasu-cho, Asahikawa City (Hokkaido)

18 Higashi-Takasu 7 Sen, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido

In addition to those introduced today, there are more than 100 locations with tanbo art in Japan. Be sure to check them out!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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