Inakadate is an unassuming village between Kuroishi and Hirosaki that has attracted international attention with their increasingly complex “Tanbo Art” – or rice paddy art. The “paintings” are done entirely using different varieties of heirloom and conventional rice. The city hall has been built up into a mock-castle structure 22 meters high, allowing for a perfect viewing spot. And it’s completely free.
The original impetus for this art back in 1993 was to draw tourist dollars to Inakadate. This monetary goal has largely failed, as the vast majority of visitors visit the viewing point and leave again without buying a thing. According to a July 26th article in the New York Times, they do draw in $70,000 in donations, which covers the $35,000 operating cost and keeps the project going. But the artwork itself has brought Inakadate far more fame then they might have anticipated.
There’s not that much to see there except for the art itself, but if you’re visiting Kuroishi or Hirosaki during the summer months it’s close enough to warrant a visit. There’s only one image a year, so some may feel that seeing a photo is enough. But if you happen to be in the neighborhood they’re an impressive sight.
Access: Inakadate Station is just two stops before Kuroishi. The fields are within walking distance, west down the main road from the station.
When: From the middle of July until October 2nd.