Murals of art in Japanese Rice Fields

What I’m about to do is a first: rip off someone else’s pictures and use them here.

After you see these incredible pictures, I’m hoping you’ll see why they need to be shared. This came by way of an email.


Since I have no leads as to how to locate the owner for permission, I’m hoping he/she will contact me and let me know so I can give the proper attribution.

The great thing about the internet is the word will get around and, eventually I hope, the photographer of these pictures will contact me.  When they do, 2 things will happen, he/she will ask that I :

  • take these pictures off, which I’ll gladly do, just please don’t sue me
  • they’ll thank me with lifetime supply of rice for sharing these wonderful works of art

I’m just cutting and pasting from the email from this point on.

Murals of Art on Rice Fields in Japan

Stunning crop art has sprung up across rice fields in Japan.

But this is no alien creation – the designs have been cleverly planted.

Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead, different colours of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields.

As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.

sengoku warrior

A Sengoku warrior on horseback has been created from hundreds of thousands of rice plants, the colours created by using different varieties, in Inakadate in Japan

The largest and finest work is grown in the Aomori village of Inakadate, 600 miles north of Tokyo, where the tradition began in 1993.

The village has now earned a reputation for its agricultural artistry and this year the enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, are visible in a pair of fields adjacent to the town hall.

More than 150,000 visitors come to Inakadate, where just 8,700 people live, every summer to see the extraordinary murals.

Each year hundreds of volunteers and villagers plant four different varieties of rice in late May across huge swathes of paddy fields.

Napolean on horseback can be seen from the skies, created by precision planting and months of planning between villagers and farmers in Inkadate

Fictional warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife Osen appear in fields in the town of Yonezawa, Japan
Naoe Kanetsugu_wife
And over the past few years, other villages have joined in with the plant designs.

Another famous rice paddy art venue is in the town of Yonezawa in the Yamagata prefecture.

This year’s design shows the fictional 16th-century samurai warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen, whose lives feature in television series Tenchijin.

Doraemon and deer dancers (shishi-odori), location unknownVarious artwork has popped up in other rice-farming areas of Japan this year, including designs of deer dancers.

Smaller works of crop art can be seen in other rice-farming areas of Japan such as this image of Doraemon and deer dancers

The farmers create the murals by planting little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru roman variety to create the coloured patterns between planting and harvesting in September.


The murals in Inakadate cover 15,000 square metres of paddy fields.

From ground level, the designs are invisible, and viewers have to climb the mock castle tower of the village office to get a glimpse of the work.

Rice-paddy art was started there in 1993 as a local revitalization project, an idea that grew out of meetings of the village committee.

2 thoughts on “Murals of art in Japanese Rice Fields”

  1. Mike,
    I have to say I was amazed myself when I saw how those murals were done.

    I thought from a distance, it was painted. Then when I saw the closeup shot of the individual plants, I was floored.

    Haven’t heard from anyone about those pictures yet.

  2. Peter,

    Thank you for sharing these amazing images. The subjects are the true stars here. First, I never knew there were that many color variations in rice. Second, the planning and precision execution in planting these murals is awesome. I for one, forgive you for posting another’s images as you’ve enriched my day by showing me something I might otherwise not have seen.



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