Just outside of Shinshiro City, eastern Aichi Prefecture, are these fantastic terraced rice growing fields called Yotsuya Senmaida, Translated, senmaida means “1,000 rice fields”, but there are 1,296 rice fields, averaging 90 m2 on the hillside at Yotsuya.
The retaining walls between the levels of terracing are created using rocks, carefully placed in the same way that castle walls were constructed. The amount of time, and labor intensive effort required to build the terraces must have been enormous. This is an incredible feat of engineering from 400 years ago. You could call it “cutting edge” rice growing technology!
Because of the steep levels, different sizes and irregular shapes, modern machinery can’t be used, and so tending to the fields, planting, reaping and maintenance is all done by hand!
The scenes here are fantastic whenever you see them. In late spring the paddies are irrigated for planting, and on a still day mirror the sky, clouds, surrounding hills and forests. In mid summer the growing rice is a rich green. Autumn sees the ripe rice turn a stunning golden yellow, contrasting with the deep greens of the surrounding trees and mountains. In the winter, the terraces are bare, so you can clearly see the amount of work put into building and maintaining the hundreds of steps.
Spring is a good time to visit the various Senmaida rice paddies, as many Rice Planting Festivals take place right in the rice paddies themselves, with song and dances performed to thank the gods for last year’s crops and pray for a bumper harvest. Anyone can take part, so if you don’t mind getting damp and dirty, hop right in and enjoy rural hospitality!
Chris Glenn is a bilingual radio DJ, TV presenter, producer, narrator, MC, copywriter, author and columnist, and Japanese historian, specializing in samurai castles, battles, armor and weapons. He is an inbound tourism advisor, and is often called upon as a lecturer and speaker on Japanese history and topics. He was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1968, and has spent over half his life in Japan, most of that time in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Chris is dedicated to promoting and preserving Japans’ long history, deep culture, traditions, arts and crafts.