‘Tanbo’ Art – art made from rice in a ‘tanbo’, the Japanese for rice paddy.
A must see in summer / early Autumn in Saitama.
There was no rice paddy art in 2020, but it has been back since 2021. This year, 2022, the rice was planted on June 11th. Yes, the rice is not painted – it is planted to create the mesmerizing ‘tanbo art’. Furthermore, the image changes each year. In 2021, it was a beautiful depiction of some of the most famous symbols of Japan. However, in 2022, they are going for a more contemporary image. The 2022 image will be a collaboration with the popular football (soccer) anime “Ao ashi” (also sometimes written as one word Aoashi).
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.
Rice Paddy Art
The featured image at the very top of the post is from the 2019 display. It coincided with the rugby world cup. One of the stadiums used during the rugby world cup is nearby at Kumagaya Sports and Culture park. There was no rice field art in 2020 due to the pandemic. But thankfully it came back, with a particularly striking image, above, in 2021.
The depiction is made from planted, not painted rice plants. It is absolutely incredible. The image is usually crystal clear for most of September. The image usually starts to become clear in early August. However, in 2021 and 2022 the image was already clear by the middle of July. In 2021 because the image became clear much earlier than usual, it also faded earlier. It was over before the end of September. The same may well happen in 2022. Normally, it starts to fade at the start of October.
Tanbo Art themes
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, it is an image from a popular soccer themed animation. Each year there is normally special events during the 2 month period the rice period art is visible / partially visible. However, they may not be able to go ahead due to the Coronavirus.
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.
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.
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 have to fill out a form with your contact details at the entrance to the museum. 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!
Parking and use of the neighboring park are 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. In 2022, there is also a new kiosk beside the lotus selling ice-cream, including edamame flavored ice-cream!
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 Rice Paddy Art Gyoda
From the Saitama Prefectural Tourist website (the original webpage from which I took this quote no longer exists, so I have linked to the tourism website):
・From Gyoda Station on the JR Takasaki Line, take the City Loop Bus (Nishi Junkan Bus Counter Clockwise)
and get off at “Kodaihasu no Sato”
・80 minutes on foot from Fukiage Station on the JR Takaski Line
・30 minutes from Hanyu IC on the Tohoku Expressway
・40 minutes from Higashi-Matsuyama IC on the Kan-Etsu Expressway
・30 minutes from Okegawa Kitamoto IC on the Ken-O Expressway
Another interesting event in Gyoda City – Hanachozu week and night light up.
Kodai Hasu No Sato (ancient Lotuses Park) 古代蓮の里 048-559-0770
On Google maps: