By Karyn Lo
It’s that time of the year again – the battle of humidity and sweat! It is also the time for rice planting. Totally related. So for those who enjoy unique events that scream THISISHOWWEDOITINJAPAN, Inakadate is worth a visit this summer!
This is a tradition that has been going annually since 1993. Locals plant different types of rice in two locations of Inakadate around May. The end result is some very interesting art. The viewing of the full glory begins in early June, and the harvesting begins in the middle of October, when the pleasant smell of burning poop will pervade most of Aomori Prefecture. Be warned.
There are two locations for the rice art – usually one of which is a more traditional style, and the other more ‘modern’. I have been going every year since my arrival to Aomori Prefecture, and I always enjoy seeing what the offices of Inakadate come up with. One of the more… memorable field art, in my opinion, is Marilyn Munro complete with her flying skirts in 2013. A bit sad I missed that one.
Previous field themes have included Star Wars, Shin-Godzilla, Ultraman, the Japanese Thunder/Wind gods, Mickey Mouse, Gone with the Wind, and other traditional Japanese figures that remind me of how plebeian I am with Japanese culture.
So what will this year’s art be? I am glad to announce it isn’t Pikotaro with PPAP.
This year’s art will be…
Everyone’s favourite Momotaro! Complete with the friends he bought with gobs of kibidango, one red demon, and one giant peach.
And for the second field… Yamata no Orochi (the 8-forked serpent) and Susanoo no Mikoto (the Shinto god of the sea and storms, brother to Amaterasu)! Those who have played Okami on Playstation 3 would be familiar with the former, and those who like the manga Naruto will have read about a similar scene with a Susano and Orochimaru. I won’t go much further into the stories behind these two really fascinating mythological characters, but they have great backstories for those who are interested.
Also, as a secret bonus, at one of the locations there will be a small field stone artwork of Princess Diana.
Finally, near one of the locations there will be some local food stands and a foot-bath. At the other, there is a mini-playground for screaming children and the occasional screaming adult.
Also, a final final note – for the last two winters, Inakadate has invited an Englishman to stamp all over the snowy fields to make ‘snow art’. Simon Beck’s art is definitely unique and worth a visit come winter time, so keep an eye out for the event! He has made some amazing snow art in many locations around the northern hemisphere as well.
9:00 – 17:00, last admission 16:30 (¥200 Adults, ¥100 Children)
Location 1 – Inakadate-mura Town Hall, 123-1 Nakatsuji Inakadate, Inakadate, Minamitsugaru-gun, Aomori-ken 038-1113
Location 2 – Michi-no-eki, Inakadate Yayoi no Sato. 10 Yahata Takahi Inakadate-mura, Minamitsugaru-gun 038-1111
By Train (with free shuttles between the two locations)
Location 1 – JR Aomori to JR Hirosaki station. From there, take the Konan Railway Line (25mins) to Inakadate Station
Location 2 – JR Aomori to JR Hirosaki station. From there, take the Konan Railway Line (23mins) to Tanbo Art Station
If I haven’t already raved about Pepe’s Kitchen in Hirosaki … Seriously. Get the Oreo milkshake.
Kuroishi City is in the neighbouring area, and they have some FANTASTIC onsen. Summer and onsen are a real thing – especially if you are going to one up in the mountains. Think crisp mountain breezes.
And as a final note about Susanoo, if you ever visit Kyushu’s Miyazaki Prefecture, there is a shrine inside a cave called Ama-no-Iwato. According to legend, it is where Susanoo’s sister Amaterasu hid in grief, effectively hiding the sun as well. Just don’t visit at night like I did, it is insanely creepy.
Be ready to swat away large hordes of families/children/old Japanese men with fly swats. The lines can also hit up to 2 hours if you go on the weekend, so best to aim for a week day.
Also, the later you go in the season the more yellowed the rice will be. See below.