Every year hundreds of farmers and enthusiastic locals gather together to create gigantic rice paddy art in Japan.
Tanbo Art is a way of expression, a local tradition that started back in 1993 and consists of using rice fields as a canvas to create the most amazing illustrations from different shades of the plant.
It started as a way to revitalize the rice village of Inakadate, in Aomori prefecture, and it has now been extended to various areas around the island of the raising sun.
For the first 8 years, the farmers created a simple picture of Mount Iwaki, but the art has now grown into more complex and detailed designs that features Manga characters, famous paintings like The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Japanese warriors on horseback.
It all starts in April, when the villagers organize committees to decide what characters they will like to portray and where exactly they will do it.
They first sketch out the designs on computers and then plant the different varieties of rice they need. They mix the purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along the green-leafed tsugaru-roman variety creating a giant artwork that needs absolutely no dyes.
This year, the huge images have gone beyond Nippon imagination, featuring as well as the famous “Ushiwaka and his subordinate Benkei” and Mazinger Z, an image of Napoleon riding his horse.
In recent years, a growing number of local governments around Japan have started organizing rice paddy art projects as a way to attract tourists and educate people about rice farming.
There are also some controversial stories about this art, as some companies like Japan Airlines started to use the art for advertising reasons, having their big logos on the rice fields as they thought it was a good way to promote the brand.
But this has caused plenty of anger and controversy between the villagers, as they didn’t like their art to be associated with advertising. The members of the local landowners’ organization, along with the former mayor, protested and the big airline logos were lately removed.
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