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Japan Begins The Tokyo Olympics Through Rice Field Art

JAPAN|

In the Saitama Prefecture, a city named Gyoda has been turned into fantastic art to mark the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics.

A more than a dozen officials from the Gyoda city office have planted different rice varieties to produce spectacular images that can be observed from a nearby observatory.
The design is usually selected early in the year, and the actual planting happens around May.

Photo credit-AFP News Agency/Harumi Ozawa


These unique massive installations are inspired by iconic Japanese heritage, such as Mt.Fuji, Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), and Kabuki actors in face paint. It was done to present Japan to the world. Such images are a significant annual culture that was started in the town of Gyoda, mainly to attract tourists. Every year, the authorities decide on the design, and it is usually selected in the early of the year, and the actual planting happens around May.

Usually, about a thousand people get involved in the humongous task of planting the correct rice varieties in the right place to produce the installation. These aren’t all committee members as the group includes volunteers with no or some knowledge on agriculture and local children, and at the end of the year, i.e., late November, they are presented with a thank you gift of 2kgs of rice. But this year, the number of people participating had to be nearly halved due to the pandemic. However, people will still have the opportunity to participate when the rice gets harvested in October.

Hence it hasn’t worked out how they thought it would since most of the games hosted are without even domestic fans allowed in the stadium. In 2015, the town also was responsible for the Guinness World Record of the world’s largest rice fields artwork which was 28,000 square meters. This artwork resulted from the collaboration between the city and the Japanese RPG video game series Dragon Quest.

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Similarly, another marvelous rice field art was done on the occasion of the 2019 World Rugby Cup what was hosted in Japan from 20 September to 2 November. The art featured Japan’s National Rugby team players.

(Photo: AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura)

During the interview made by the AFP, a 23-year-old visitor Kiyo Hoshino said, “It’s much more dynamic than I had expected. I expected something more simple. But it’s more complicated in its design and on a huge scale. I was impressed that the art is so panoramic.” Maintaining such a marvelous piece of work takes more than just a dozen of officials, so members of the agriculture department are continuously devoted to weeding the field, slowly across the whole area in rubber boots with sickles on their hands.

The project is also designed to bring the community together along with tourists and promote mutual harmony as peace. People are hopeful that after the pandemic is over, they can get back to enjoying their annual event with more tourists and newer faces participating.

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