The 2021 stunning Japanese Rice Paddy Art in Gyoda, Saitama

‘Tanbo’ Art – art made from rice in a ‘tanbo’, the Japanese for rice paddy.
A must see in summer / early Autumn in Saitama.
And in 2023 they have turned the rice field art three dimensional so you can see it for even longer. Information for this new feature added on October 24th 2023.

The rice for the 2023 Guinness World Record Rice Paddy Art was planted today. Yes, the rice is not painted – it is planted to create the mesmerizing ‘tanbo art’. Furthermore, the image changes each year. To date, the 2021 depiction of some of the most famous symbols of Japan, as per the featured photo, has been my favourite so far. In 2023, they are modelling the rice field art on a movie: Fly me to {the} Saitama 2! Moreover, in 2023, they are harvesting the rice in such a way that you actually see the design, as three dimensional, until late November according to Saitama Shinbun.

Fly me to the Rice Paddy Art in Saitama!

2023 Rice Paddy Art image Fly me to the Saitama 2
Image for the 2023 Rice Paddy Art

The theme for the 2023 rice paddy ‘tanbo’ art at Gyoda’s Kodai Hasu no Sato, is “Fly me to Saitama 2”. The Fly me to (/the) Saitama movies are based on a manga “Tonde Saitama”. Using the image, pictured above, the organizers planned how the rice should be planted and volunteers planted the rice today. It is an absolute incredible feat.

As you can see from the 2022 images above, when the rice grows it is amazingly similar to the the design. I have been to this event several times over the years and I always used to recommend visiting in September as for many years the image was crystal clear for most of September. HOWEVER, since 2021 the image was already clear by the middle of July. It may very well be the same in 2023. In addition, whereas you used to be able to see the rice art until mid October, for the last few years, its faded by the start of October.

Tanbo Art themes

Rice field art rugby 2019

In the past, they have matched the theme to big events. For example, in 2019 they had a rugby depiction, pictured above, for the rugby world cup. Some of the matches were held nearby in the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.

Condor Rice Paddy Art Gyoda

Before the rugby theme, in 2018 the theme of the rice paddy art was “Great Wings and Nazca lines”. In 2021 the theme was Japanese culture. Furthermore, it was part of an Edible Art project. In 2022, the image was a collaboration with the popular football (soccer) anime “Ao ashi” (also sometimes written as one word Aoashi).

Over the years

You can see a summary of the images over the years in the collage I made below. Moreover, you can see in this image how the event has evolved over the years.

Rice field art over the years Kodai Hasu No Sato

The very first display was very basic. However, the designs have become more elaborate and bigger over the years. And in 2015 the field was awarded the Guinness World Record for the largest work of rice field art (bottom row first picture on left on above collage). The art work, which uses 9 different types of rice for contrast, is over an approximate 27,000 square meters.

Observation Tower

Viewing Tower Rice Paddy Art Gyoda

You can view from the 50 meter observation tower of Kodai No Hasu between the hours of 9 am and 4.30 pm (last entry 4 pm). The cost to enter the tower is 400 yen for adults and 200 yen per child over 6 years of age. There is a small nature museum of the first floor which is included in the entry price. 

During the pandemic you had to fill out a form with your contact details at the entrance to the museum. Hopefully, that is gone in 2023. Also, please note, that you have to queue to use the elevator. Furthermore, when you get to the observation deck you have to follow a one-way system and wait your turn to get to the windows with the view!

Other

Each year there is normally special events during the 2 month period the rice period art is visible / partially visible.

During the period that the ancient lotus are also in bloom – July to early August – you have to pay for parking. The park is free. The outdoor rest area is also free to use. There is an udon restaurant and “fried jelly” (not actual jelly, just the name) kiosk beside the entrance to the tower building. Since 2022, there is also a new kiosk beside the lotus, selling ice-cream, including edamame flavored ice-cream!


New in 2023 – three dimensional rice field art

This year, the rice field art image started to fade around early October. However, this year they have done the coolest thing ever! On the weekend of October 21st they harvested the rice – but not all of it. They only harvested the rice around the characters of the image, with the result that the image can once again be seen clearly, in three dimensional form! 😮 According to Saitama Newspaper the rest of the rice will be harvested late in November, so you should be able to see the image until then. From the newspaper:

Three dimensional Gyoda Rice art

Near Tokyo

Where can I see rice paddy art near Tokyo?

The rice field art at Kodai Hasu no Sato, Gyoda in Saitama is the largest rice paddy art display near Tokyo. You can see the display in August and September.


Information

Event: Gyoda’s Rice Paddy Art 2023「田んぼアート」in 行田

Date: the rice was planted on June 10th, expected to be visible from around mid July to around the end of September. This is an estimate based on previous years, but there are many factors that could influence the formation of the image. Please do check with the official website for the most recent information. In 2023, you can once again see the image from October 21st to late November, but in 3D form! See two paragraphs up.

Time: 9 am and 4.30 pm (last entry 4 pm) for the observation tower. The park is open 24 hours.

Cost: 400 yen for adults, 200 yen for children to view from the observation tower. Free to view from the park, but you can’t really see it unless you view from above. NO DRONES.

Venue: Kodai Hasu no Sato, 2375-1 Kobari, Gyoda, Saitama 361-0024. View on Google Maps.

Further Information

If you want to read more about how the rice paddy art is created I recommend this blog post (I have no affiliation to this site). More general information about the Kodai Hasu no Sato park, including seasonal flowers. Each year Kodai Hasu No Sato has winter illumination: Winter Illumination in Saitama, Gyoda City

Access

On the weekends in July there is a free shuttle bus to the park thanks to the bloom period of the ancient lotus. More information on the bus here. Otherwise, you can get a city loop bus from Gyoda Station which is on the JR Takasaki Line and alight at Kodaihasu no Sato. To walk, the nearest station is Fukiage station, also on the Takasaki line. But it takes at least an hour and 15 minutes on foot!

By car the nearest interchanges are either Hanyu Interchange on the Tohoku Expressway or the Okegawa-kitamoto Interchange on the Ken-o expressway. During the month of July and until August 6th parking costs 500 yen. From August 7th parking is free.

Another interesting event in Gyoda City the first two weeks of September with amazing Japanese umbrella light up and floating flowers.

Editor’s note; there was no rice paddy art in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they had it in 2021 and every year after. 180810. R1.210601. R2.230610

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