Ukiyo-e art appears in rice paddies in Saitama for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

You’ll find Hokusai’s iconic 'Great Wave' and an artwork of a kabuki actor in the rice fields of Gyoda, Saitama

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
Associate Editor, Time Out Tokyo

There’s no shortage of innovative art in Japan. From Tokyo’s many galleries to the country’s stunning outdoor art museums, there’s always an exhibition on or something to see, wherever you may be. This summer, even Japan’s rice fields have become canvasses – some of the rice paddies in Saitama have been turned into giant works of art. 

Gyoda city in Saitama prefecture has been turning local rice paddies into jaw-dropping murals every year since 2008 as an effort to draw tourists. The city even took the Guinness World Record back in 2015 for creating the world's largest rice field artwork.

In honour of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, this year's rice paddy artwork features a depiction of the famous Hokusai ukiyo-e woodblock print 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa' along with an image of a kabuki actor, similar to the one seen at the Olympic opening ceremony.

This year's design was selected to showcase Japan's cultural heritage to the wave of international visitors that were expected in Tokyo and Japan for the Games. Sadly, the pandemic has largely kept overseas tourists away, but these photos and videos let you enjoy the artworks from anywhere in the world.

Although it looks like the field has been cut into shape, the images are actually created by planting types of rice that grow in different colours. The rice for the artwork was planted back in June and reached full bloom on July 30. The best time to see the field is from mid-July to mid-October, before the rice is harvested in the autumn.

You can see the full rice paddy from the 50m-high lookout spot at the nearby Gyoda Ancient Lotus Park. The park is just over two hours from Tokyo Station by train and bus, and entry is ¥400 (¥200 for children). To get there, take the Ueno-Tokyo Line to Fukiage Station and switch to a bus before alighting at the Fujiharamachi Bus Stop. The park is an 18-minute walk from there.

For more information, visit here

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