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Tanbo Art: Images in Rice Paddies

Updated on November 5, 2012

Art and Agriculture meet with Tanbo Art

In the small Japanese villate of Inakadate, Japan, one can view from a tower these beautiful and temporary works of community art. The town began planting different types of rice in patterns to create images as a means of revitalization. The project is a success and has blossomed into a new type of deviant art, the villagers have named "Tanbo art". Nearby villages have adopted the practice as well.

The Sengoku-period warrior pictured above is part of a pair of Tanbo creations in the original rice field erected by the Inakadate villagers adjacent to their town hall. The villagers built a tower nearby in order to view the Tanbo art.

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How it all started

In 1993, The villagers of Inakadate Japan wanted to revitalize their village. They decided to honor their rich archaelogical history of growing rice by starting a rice field behind town hall and using that as their first canvas.

The rice types they used created four main colors, and varied from modern rice to heirloom strains. The planting and production begins every April, when a new vision is planned for the local paddy. The project caught on after several years, and in 2007, there were 700 people present to help with the planting.

In other areas, landowners have come together to allow the creation of larger pictures.

Learn more about Tanbo - from these books at Amazon.com

The rice culture goes back more than 2,000 years in Japan. Tanbo art is the crowning jewel to a heritage rich in stories.

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No Advertising!

But you can buy "Art Rice"

There was a controversy in 2008 over a plan to replace the text of Daikokuten (one of the Seven Gods of Fortune - the Japanese equivalent to Shiva) with advertisements in order to cover the price of increasing overhead.

However, the landowners got together with the former mayor and protested the use of advertising in the Rice Paddies, by threatening not to rent the land out in the following year. The landowners won (but only by a tiny margin!)

There have been enough donations to keep the project going, but they have still found a way to market the finished product. The product is called "Suike Art Rice". This is a type of Meibutsu, which is a Japanese term associating a product with a region.

2009 Rice Paddy Art - by Yokotasaburo

This video shows how huge these works of art really are - as you can see people walking within the rows - as small as ants!

Loving Couple appears to be hiding in the bushes.

Loving Couple appears to be hiding in the bushes.
Loving Couple appears to be hiding in the bushes.

The Japanese have a way with Art - And it's not just in the fields

Check out some of these incredible works available right now on Ebay!

Collection of Rice Field Art photos - Set to lovely music

I have not seen many of these except in this video.

These photos show the progression - Beginning to finished project

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In the beginning, it just looks like an ordinary rice fieldAs the rice begins to grow, you can barely make out a difference in the color.Gradually, we can tell it is an image of somethingAnd it grows into a real work of artbecoming more beautiful each dayuntil it finally grows into a full masterpiece!
In the beginning, it just looks like an ordinary rice field
In the beginning, it just looks like an ordinary rice field
As the rice begins to grow, you can barely make out a difference in the color.
As the rice begins to grow, you can barely make out a difference in the color.
Gradually, we can tell it is an image of something
Gradually, we can tell it is an image of something
And it grows into a real work of art
And it grows into a real work of art
becoming more beautiful each day
becoming more beautiful each day
until it finally grows into a full masterpiece!
until it finally grows into a full masterpiece!

More on Tanbo Art

Much of the information for this lens came from an email I received from a friend. However, I did corraborate with the following resources:

Thanks for stopping by! - Please leave a comment if you wish!

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    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Amazing artwork!

    working

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