|A sunset photo of the newly planted field in Sammu, Chiba.|
What Tomohito and Nagisa Minowa also do is Tambo Art (rice field art). Various shades of rice - red, black, yellow, and white - are planted by hand in a particular design. Aomori Prefecture started it back in 1993, and since then it has spread. It's another great example of farmer creativity benefitting the community - more than 200,000 people visited the site in 2006 to see the design for themselves - and the local economy.
The Minowas, though, put a slightly different twist on it. Last year, they partnered with farmers in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, to plant three fields in different designs. Soma, one of the cities hardest hit by the triple disaster in 2011, was planting rice for the first time. A group of farmers wanted to do something special to commemorate this event and raise morale. Sites were chosen along a popular walking path and the rice was planted. It was some of the most fun I've ever had, and I fell in love with Fukushima all over again.
This year the Minowas are again partnering with Soma growers, but they've added another site in Sammu, Chiba, their hometown and a stone's throw from Narita Airport. The idea is to attract folks to Sammu and give those coming and going from the airport something nifty to see. The design, Tsuruonegaishi, is based on a popular Japanese fairy tale, and was crafted by a local artist, Barusa Mikoyasu. My photo above doesn't do it justice, but it should offer a general idea. They'll be weeding in July and harvesting come September. Give a shout if you want to join. Should be loads of good old-fashioned, dirty fun.