Eriko SUGIKI VOLAT / Getty Images

The Japanese town of Inakadate is famous for its rice paddy "paintings."

Clara Olshansky
September 28, 2017

Even the coolest corn mazes have nothing on rice paddies. Rice paddy art—you may remember these creations from Shenyang, China—is a ridiculously impressive form that turns whole landscapes into gorgeous works paintings. In this video from Great Big Story, you can see the stunning rice paddy creations of Inakadate, Japan, a village famous for its rice.

"I don't think people can really understand rice paddy art without seeing it," says Yukio Kasai, Inakadate's vice mayor, in the video. As gorgeous as the images in the video are (at 1:37, it starts to look like something out of a Wes Anderson movie), the small-screen representation can't capture the beauty of the paddies as they are in real life. Still, it's inspiring to know that these gorgeous, communal works of art are being made.

Glenn Waters in Japan / Getty Images

Inakadate's rice paddy creations began as a way to turn the village's rice fame into a way to draw tourists. Inspired by children planting rice by hand at local elementary schools, village officials now hold an annual conference to decide what the year's rice paddy artworks are going to be. After the officials create a mockup of the image using seven colors (because the images are ultimately grown using seven different colors of rice), school art teachers turn the images into more artistically sophisticated drawings. From there, the officials go into the field and mark the areas for each color.

This year, 1,300 people participated in planting the images by hand. Then, three months after the original conception, the images are created. The images have come a long way from the first design they ever planted: a simple, local mountain with the name of the village printed below it, no more complicated than an Atari graphic. Today, the images are incredibly intricate illustrations, depicting scenes from mythology and folklore. The rice paddy art draws visitors from Tokyo, Osaka, and other parts of Japan, and it's no wonder.

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / Getty Images

For more creative mini-documentaries, check out Great Big Story's YouTube channel.