What's In Your Rice Bowl?

In a small town in northern Japan, it might be a work of art!

In July of 2005 I posted a picture of two Ukiyoe prints by 18th Century artists Sharaku and Utamaro, as reproduced in rice paddies using different colored varieties of the grain.

This is an annual project in Inakadate Village, in the prefecture of Aomori. Last year, they produced these images of two Japanese gods -

You can visit the town website to see previous rice art as well as a photo sequence of last year's rice art starting with the hand planting of the rice on May 28, and following the growth every few weeks to the end of September. As the site is in Japanese, I've linked that particular frame directly here: Inakadate Rice Art Growth. Not shown above is the writing - in rice - of the town name plus a slogan or theme used each year.

What's next? For 2007, they have chosen two famous woodblock prints by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) from his series "Thirty Six Views of Mt. Fuji".

One of the things that has always fascinated me about Japanese culture is the way that art is integrated into so many things and every aspect of life. This has been eroded somewhat by westernization which emphasizes the utilitarian aspects of things, but in typical Japanese fashion the artistic and the utilitarian are often blended into something new and unique. Rice paddy art may not be the most practical example, but it does represent the many ways that the Japanese have continued to embrace their own cultural heritage and use its art to enhance everyday life.


Don Snabulus said...

Can you imagine how many albums Led Zeppelin could have sold with those "crop circles" on their album cover?

Those space aliens in the UK are rank amateurs.

bonnie said...

Also paling in comparison - the guys who mow patterns into the grass of baseball diamonds.

Thanks for your comments. The weather here is so pathetically yucky that I think I may just keep posting Hawaii pictures for a while. I have a lot. First trip to Hawaii with a digital camera, you know?

QUASAR9 said...

Awesome designs!
Amazing what patterns man's ingenuity can add to those in nature.

I always loved those 3-D creations (made from cork? or thin sheets of wood) in between two sheets of glass

Pandabonium said...

Snabby- Note the dirigible shadow...

Bonnie - I'm posting a "teaser" to your Hawaii post next - stay tuned.
Glad you'll share more.

Quasar9 - maybe they should plant a astronomy related picture. Those carvings are made of cork. It is an ancient Chinese art, popular throughout Asia.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

What amazing outdoor geoglyphs - they look wonderful. There's a guy in Australia who does large-scale works with rocks, and someone did an Aboriginal figure on the land which can only really be viewed by a plane. Huge scale.

YD said...

I agree with the last paragraph very much. It has also been the very thing that attracted me to Japanese culture. The clashes between the new and old, the survival of the traditional culture, etc... I think, while you progress forward, it's good to have your roots reminding u where u have come from.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - I'd like to see those.

YD - yes, I think that is the key. Accept change, but never lose one's roots. I also think that beauty and art need to be integral to our experience.