Japan's Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle

Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle
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This is Naruto from, well, Naruto. The iconic manga and anime character has been recreated in a Japanese rice paddy.

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This is called "tanbo art" (田んぼアート) or "rice paddy art". There are no dyes to create the different colors and hues. Instead, farmers used various rice strains in their tanbo canvases.

Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle
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Often, hundreds of villagers work together to plant the rice by hand and create these massive works of art. While planting, different areas of the rice paddy are roped off, so people know which type of rice to put where—kind of like painting by numbers.

Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle

Rice is planted in the spring, and then harvested in the fall. When it gets close to harvest, the color changes to a beautiful hue called "koganeiro" (黄金色), which is often translated as "golden" or "honey-colored".

Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle
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This means the art changes as the seasons change.

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Originally, tanbo art was started in the early 1990s after a village Aomori Prefecture was looking for a way to rejuvenate itself. Since then, the rice paddy art has been good for local tourism—so good, it seems, that it has spread to other prefectures. The Naruto tanbo art, for instance, is located in Okayama Prefecture.

So while tanbo art isn't new, the Naruto rice paddy hit Twitter earlier this week.

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Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle
Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle
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Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle

Now, people visit these local rice fields and take photos of the rice paddies from scaffolding. Some, of course, take photos with the tanbo art.

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Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle

Traditionally, tanbo art has taken its designs from traditional motifs—Japanese or Western. But in the past few years, there have been more and more "geek-friendly" rice paddies, whether that's Mazinger-Z or, more recently, Naruto.

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Illustration for article titled Japans Amazing Rice Paddy Art Continues to Dazzle

Photos: “ちょっと”いいもの見付けた!, jopparika, uchinome, 俳句とお星様と山歩き, Hatena, kisaragituan, Aomori, 湯郷りんりんブログ

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To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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DISCUSSION

Brian, allow me to lump Japanese folk together, but in a good way! Maybe it's because Kotaku doesn't have correspondents in Kenya, France, or other places, but I get the feeling that there is a much stronger artistic strain in the Japanese than in other places. Simple comparison, American's have tons of grain fields too. Do we spontaneously use them for big works of public art? No, we use them to pretend aliens came to abduct us.