Inakadate Rice Fields: Putting Crop Circles to Shame

I was doing some internet surfing this morning over a cup of coffee (or five), which is how I start almost every morning, when I came across something absolutely, unbelieveably, incredibly cool.  So cool, that I actually said outloud to my coffee cup “that is, by far, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen”.  Well, that might be a slight exageration, but I’ll let you guys decide just how cool you think this is.

You’ve probably looked at pictures of crop circles and thought to yourself “gee wiz, thats amazing, a person couldn’t possibly make that!” or you thought to yourself “bahh humbug! some drunk kids with a wheelbarrow made that!” Well, what I’m about to show you is way cooler than crop circles, and its made by… people.  That’s right, people. You can even see pictures of them making it.  This super cool, amazing thing is: Inakadate Rice Field Art!

Every year in Inakadate, a rural town in Japan, farmers plant rice.  Surprised? I’m not.  But they do something special with their rice.  They dont just plant one kind of rice in the field, creating a monotone, all green landscape that you would expect of a rice field.  No, instead, they plant red rice and yellow rice.

Sound like a disaster? Like, how could different kinds of plants exist in the same field? Fear not, because I have the same question.  I don’t know anything about farming, so don’t ask me.

Anyway, they plant all these different colors of rice in the field in a design that takes hundreds of people to plant and organize.  They create detailed, intricate images in the likeness of Hokusai’s 36 Views of Fuji and other famous old wood block prints.

Here are some amazing pictures for your viewing pleasure:

So? Are you amazed? I am.

Now, the big question:  how do these people actually perfectly calculate where to plant the rice so that it will come out as perfect as it does? All the proportions are correct.  The lettering at the bottom of the pictures looks like computer type.  There are no mistakes.  Is it even possible for human beings to do this all by hand? Not to mention there’s hundreds of people collaborating, can they all know exactly where to plant everything?

Here’s my two cents.  I bet they take an image and convert it to a vector drawing on the computer. Lost yet? I’ll explain. There’s two kinds of computer art programs: pixel paint programs and vector drawing programs.  Pixel programs run on a grid of sorts, made up of hundreds or even thousands of tiny little squares.  Each square is a pixel.  Your computer screen is made up of pixels. Everything you see right now as you read this is the product of an intricate layout of pixels on your screen.  So when you do art in a pixel program, like Photoshop, you lay out tons of little squares.  When you resize the image, the size of the squares increase.  let me be specific: if you double the size of the image, one square of color becomes four squares of the same color.  So what do you get? the same exact image, except you can see all the pixels more, and the quality goes down.

Now, whats a Vector drawing program? Its the other way for a computer to display images, and its far more precise.  When you see logos on a bilboard as you drive down the highway, you are looking, most likely, at the product of vector art.  Have you ever looked really really close at a logo? There are no pixels.  No identifiable gridwork or little squares, and that’s because it was created using equasions (did I spell that right?).  You draw a shape on the computer (doesn’t have to be a polygon, you can manipulate the edges to have curves and as many nodes as you want) and the computer recognizes that shape as an equasion like calculus.  It remembers the equasion for that shape, so when you resize it, the proportions and the quality remain exactly the same.  No pixels.  The computer just substitutes new values into the equation, and litereally recreates the image for you.  Its a beautiful thing. (by the way, an example of this would be Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw).

Now, if your still actually reading this post, you’re probably wondering “what does this have to do with Rice Field Art?”

I think the people of Inakadate probably take the wood block print, vectorize it, calculate its proportions if it were to be projected onto a massive rice field, then pixelize the image to put it on a grid, then plant the different colored rice plants accordingly.  Make sense? I don’t know.  Its just a possibility.  I didn’t actually research how they do it, and not a single website I could find talked about their methods of transposing the image onto the field, they only talked about planting the rice.

If you know more about it, let me know, because I’m interested.

Got Rice?


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