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Rice paddies come alive as massive 'ukiyo-e' field art in eastern Japan

Ukiyo-e and Kabuki themed rice paddy art is seen at Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture, on Aug. 5, 2021. It is so huge that it can only be captured with an ultra-wide-angle lens. (Mainichi/ Hirohiko Kumamoto)

GYODA, Saitama -- The landscape of this east Japan city has turned into a giant canvas showcasing ukiyo-e and Kabuki motifs in the form of dynamic rice field art.

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition was canceled in 2020, and the theme for this year's event, the 13th of its kind, is "Japonism revived in the rice paddies: ukiyo-e and Kabuki." Rice paddy art in Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture, was once certified by Guinness World Records as the largest of its kind.

    On a huge canvas of about 2.8 hectares of rice paddies, Mount Fuji with large waves by Edo period artist Katsushika Hokusai and a powerful kabuki actor are dynamically displayed.

    This work is expressed using perspective, and if you look at it from the ground, you will only see an ordinary rice paddy. It can only be properly viewed from the 50-meter high observatory of the Ancient Lotus Hall in the city's Ancient Lotus Village park.

    The artwork expressed by the four different colored rice plants is incredibly powerful. This year, they used a slower-growing rice called "yukiasobi," which seems to have enhanced the 3D effect even more.

    Kozue Yoshimoto, 42, of the Gyoda City Industry, Culture and Sports Lively Foundation, which operates the park, said, "I am happy to say that the number of visitors has returned to the pre-coronavirus level." She added that the city's neighbors are encouraged to come and see this large-scale display during their summer vacation.

    The best time to see the art is throughout August, but it can be enjoyed until harvest in October. The entrance fee is 400 yen (about $3.60) for adults.

    (Japanese original by Hirohiko Kumamoto, Kumagaya Bureau)

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