But Where Would We Hang It?

In a rural region a few hundred miles north of Tokyo, the residents of Inakadate Village have spent the last 15 years beating the crop circle aliens at their own game: They turn the village rice paddies into stunning, multicolored facsimiles of Edo Period drawings. This year 15,000 square meters (about 49,000 square feet) of paddies were planted in reproductions of the woodblock prints in Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, and their vibrant fidelity to the original art is remarkable, at least in the photos accompanying this Japan Times story. (An article that was, inevitably, quickly redubbed by a blogger, “Pimp My Rice Paddy.”)

Using a computer, a few villagers virtually plot the fields, arranging them so that the art’s best seen from a 72-foot-high “mock castle tower.” The designers then physically mark the location of each variety with reed sticks and tape—this year it took 6,100 sticks—before everyone joins in the planting. The art’s made out of only four varieties of rice, each with different-colored leaves: “two ancient varieties called ki ine (yellow rice) and murasaki ine (purple rice) that grow into yellow- and brown-leafed plants respectively, and also more modern Beni Miyako (Red Miyako) and Tsugaru Roman, an Aomori variety with a fresh-green color.”

The achievement has not gone overlooked in Japan: Inakadate Village expects 200,000 rice-paddy tourists this year, although time’s running out—the paddies are harvested on September 30. If you’re short on rice or art, the village welcomes volunteer harvesters.

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