Across Japan, be blown away by epic fields of living art!
Grown over 5 months, the colours of the rice are all natural, and the designs are fresh every year.
Japan’s Rice Field Art
Every year, between summer to autumn, as you travel through Japan, you can enjoy a seasonal special— rice paddy art (aka tanbo art)! Each year, new themes and images are planted, so there’s always a reason to keep going back. If we could travel across space and time without restrictions, we would love to return to the Star Wars field with C-3PO and R2-D2.
Tanbo art draws inspiration from Japanese to Western culture, attracting local and overseas tourists in the hundreds of thousands every year. That said, you won’t find crowds but will instead find zen as you gaze upon the breathtaking art that is meticulously planned/planted.
To appreciate tanbo art, you need to get a bird’s eye view of the rice field. In Inakadate, the birthplace of Tanbo art, you can get a ticket to each of the observation towers: The Inakadate Village Office and Michi-no-Eki Inakadate Yayoi-no-Sato.
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- Cars: Renting a car and driving is the easiest way to see tanbo art. Toyota Rental Car has the best coverage throughout rural Japan, although prices tend to be higher. An international driving permit is required to rent a car in Japan.
- Japan’s train and bus network is very extensive, and will bring you to a number of tanbo art locations.
- If traveling by rail, consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass. The JR Tohoku Pass represents an outstanding value for travelers interested in exploring the region around Inakadate.
- The observation tower, Michi-no-Eki Inakadate Yayoi-no-Sato is a very short walk from Inakadate train station.
- You can travel easily between the 2 observation towers in Inakadate using the free shuttle bus that runs regularly.
- Hotels and AirBNB opportunities are aplenty in Japan, including the Tohoku region, which is home to Inakadate. We recommend staying in nearby Hirosaki.
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Japan’s Tanbo Art
We planned a trip to the Tohoku region of Japan after being enticed by epic images of rice field art. We decided to make Inakadate our priority stop for rice field art viewing since it is where the artfrom originates. At the gallery inside the observation tower of The Inakadate Village Office, we learnt that Inakadate also has snow field art during winter. When the rice fields are covered in snow, artists trek across in snowshoes to form intricate designs that similarly celebrate the creativity of the people of Inakadate. We hope to return in winter to witness this beautiful transformation.
We travelled to Inakadate for the sole purpose of seeing living rice paddy art and were not disappointed. We thoroughly enjoyed the few hours we spent taking in the 2 fields of rice paddy art, and the unexpected surprises of two pebble mosaics we found near the train station. Had we more time in Japan, we would have liked to visit more fields of rice paddy art. In future, if we are ever near a rice paddy art, we’d be keen to stop to see what new images are growing that year!
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