Works in Progress - Winter 2010

Harvested, But Not Forgotten

By Jessica Wilde | June 27, 2013


Areas of green, purple, and yellow are mapped out by hand, plotted on computers, and marked with reed sticks on the land of Inakadate Village in Japan. Then villagers go to work planting rice. The result is an enormous work of art that can only be discerned from a castle overlooking the paddies. The 2009 images, horseback representations of Napoleon Bonaparte and a Sengoku-period warrior, were harvested at the end of September; the rice was shared by those who helped with spring planting.

The 2010 rice paddy art project will get under way in April. After deciding on an image, often based on a work by a famous Japanese artist, the villagers will calculate and plot precise areas where the colors need to go. Green, purple, and yellow rice leaves are the media.

The project, in the village at the northern end of Honshu, originated in 1993 as a way to boost tourism. The best time to enjoy the view is in July, and that’s when most of any given year’s 150,000 visitors arrive. Until planting time, villagers are cooking up even more ambitious works of art and making plans to host seminars for other Japanese farming communities on the practical details of creating rice paddy art.

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