Back in 1993, the villagers of Inakadate, Aomori in Tohoku region of Japan were at a loss: the 7000 strong population were in the midst of an economic crisis. A bad harvest in a society dependent on agricultural income meant high unemployment, and dire straights. With lives and livelihoods at risk, the local council decided to come up with a revolutionary idea to increase tourism: create murals in the rice paddies. Inspired by the village’s two millennia of rice growing, villagers built a paddy behind the town hall using four different strains of rice. The four different strains produced four different colours. The results are quite incredible.
Many of these pictures were taken from the 22 metre tower behind the village hall, erected to view the art. The pictures are taken over a period of ten years from 2003. The art has spread further than the paddy behind the town hall with villagers keen to cash in on the added footfall. In 2006, 200,000 people visited the village to see the artworks. In 2007 nearly 10% of the villagers helped plant rice.
In April, villagers congregate to decide what should be planted and where. Computer generated designs are produced to tell workers where to plant seed and when. This is organic art at its best; unaltered, unspoilt, grown from the ground.
Tanbo art – laughing in the face of crop circles since 1993.