Fact Check

Rice Field Art

Photographs show artworks created in planted rice fields?

Published June 30, 2011


Claim:   Photographs show murals created in planted rice fields.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2009]

Rice art

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.

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.


Origins:   As described in the accompanying text, the images shown above were not created through any digital manipulation or artificial coloring, but through the careful planting of different varieties of rice. As the Telegraph reported of this unusual form of artwork in Japanese rice paddies:

A group of farmers have created these extraordinary 'murals' by planting rice in different colours in Japanese paddy fields.

The creations emerge in the late summer months after the rice plants have had a chance to grow.

But the farmers first sketch out their designs on computers so that they know exactly where the rice needs to be planted.

Hundreds of villagers and other volunteers then help plant the four different coloured varieties of rice in the vast fields.

The most famous work is grown in the village of Inakadate, 600 miles north of Tokyo, where the tradition began in 1993.

Each year a different design is on show and more than 15,000 visitors travel to see the creation.

Images that have adorned the village fields include a Japanese Sengoku warrior on horseback, a giant frog and a butterfly.

Another famous paddy art venue is the city of Yonezawa, in northern Japan, where this year's design shows fictional 16th-century samurai warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen.

The farmers create the murals by planting purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru roman variety.

The rice is planted in May and the creations are at their best in September.

In Inakadate the art covers 15,000 square metres but anyone wanting to catch a glimpse has to climb the village's castle tower.

'Paddy art' was started in the village 16 years ago as a project to revitalise the local economy.

In the first nine years, the local farmers grew a simple design of a mountain every year.

But in 2005, when the ideas began to attract more attention, an agreement between landowners saw the creation of much bigger artworks.

Last updated:   30 June 2011


    The Telegraph.   "Farmers Create Coloured Rice 'Murals' in Japan."

    3 August 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.