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Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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Stories of Tanadas

Come to Love Tanadas (rice terraces) in Japan

To discover the stories of Tanadas (rice terraces) in some regions, please click the links below.

  1. Inabuchi Tanada in NARA
  2. Inagura in NAGANO
  3. Kehara in KYOTO

Inabuchi Tanada in NARA

Kyoto and Nara are ancient capitals of Japan.
In Asuka Village, Nara Prefecture, there are historic buildings, such as Asuka Temple, which houses Japan’s oldest Buddhist statues, and Ishibutai Kofun (Ishibutai Tumulus), which has one of Japan’s largest stone chambers.
In Asuka Village, you can also enjoy a beautiful landscape of Tanada (terraced rice fields), which changes its appearance according to the seasons.

English website of Asuka Village: Link)

Inabuchi flower

“Reflecting on memories and unknown things” is a mental state which Japanese people consider as the most valuable.

There is a flower called red spider lily. Its flower language is “I think only of you.”
When you were even a little away from your beloved ones, haven’t you found yourself absorbed in thinking about them?
Inabuchi Tanada, where these flowers grow wild in large clusters and are in bloom in September, is located in Asuka Village, Nara Prefecture. The village was the political and cultural center of ancient Japan.
In this place, you can see the Asuka River running by, “Tobi Ishi (stepping stones),” which serves as a bridge between lovers and was featured in Manyoshu (the oldest collection of Japanese ancient poems; compiled sometime after 759), canola flowers blooming in spring, and fireflies lighting up the night sky in summer, and you can enjoy a landscape with a hint of mystical beauty. You will have a glimpse of an extraordinary world that coexists with the scenic landscape.
What love awaits you in Inabuchi Tanada, which also brings a hint of ancient romance?

Inabuchi Tanada,
based on knowledge brought by
talented people

Japanese missions to Sui China and Tang China, and others brought back a wide range of cultures, knowledge and techniques, which were accumulated in Asuka, where it is said that land was cleared to establish Tanada in Inabuchi in the Heian to Muromachi periods (794 to 1573) after the capital was moved.

Inabuchi tanada

The design of Tanada is ingenious in utilizing, and sometimes changing, the flow of the Asuka River and over 300 fields were established on gently inclined planes. It can be said that this beautiful landscape was created in the course of development of Japan led by many intellectuals and engineers. The central part of ancient Japan was the northern area of Inabuchi Tanada, which has been called Asuka (or remote Asuka). The current Asuka Village was formed as a result of 10 villages merging over time.
Also, canola flowers blossom in the spring, while rice fields are bountiful in gold with red and yellow spider lilies in full bloom in early autumn, creating a beautiful landscape in Inabuchi Tanada.

Bridge of “passion”
spanning the Asuka River

Let’s imagine briefly what it was like in ancient Japan.
Before Japan became a developed country, no streetlights were available and the moonlight was the only light at night. The village was silent, there were no televisions and all you wanted to do was see your lover who lived across the river.

Inabuchi bridge

“I will cross the Asuka River tomorrow again. Unlike the stepping stones being away from each other, my heart is close to you”
This is a translation of a poem recorded in Manyoshu. In the era when no mobile phones were available, just crossing a river in the darkness of night to see someone was not an easy task. The poem conveys a sad feeling that the time of being unable to see a lover feels like forever.
In Inabuchi Tanada, there are stepping stones featured in the poem and a monument inscribed with the poem.
Let’s have a look at another poem. “Like mist hanging over the Asuka River, my feelings for the capital city are not likely to disappear”
The poem conveys a feeling of longing for the previously prosperous capital city. Inabuchi Tanada was something like the central part of Japan, and unlike now, people lived an inconvenient life, reflecting on memories and unknown things.
How about visiting this place while imagining the lives of people of that era?

[Information for gourmets]

Asuka Pot Dish

Asuka Pot Dish is known as a local specialty of Nara Prefecture and can be considered the original milk pot! As its name suggests, the dish seems to have been created in the Asuka period (592-710).

Inabuchi nabe

It is said that the dish began with a pot meal that a Buddhist monk who visited Japan from Tang China prepared using goat milk to ward off the cold. The dish is healthy using plenty of chicken and vegetables, and the mildness of the milky taste makes you unable to stop eating!
You can eat the dish both in Asuka Village and around Nara Station!
We would love you to try it at least once when you visit Nara!

Inagura in NAGANO

Nagano was the host site of the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games and boasts a rich natural environment including the Japan Alps. Many people enjoy skiing, climbing mountains, and other leisure activities here.
Ueda City is 1.5 hours away from Tokyo Station by Shinkansen and has Tanada (terraced rice fields) in Inagura; you can also enjoy leisure activities utilizing Tanada agricultural fields.

Website of Ueda City: Link)

No English website is available and only information about automatic translation services is provided.

Official tourism website of Nagano Prefecture : Link)

Inagura tanada a

Hardships develop the strength to live.

What a heavy task it is to continue life as a human being.
In the modern era, well-maintained roads and transportation systems are in place, airconditioning systems are fully provided in houses, and people lying on the bed can connect to the world while operating their smartphone with one hand. Today, people may not have many physical obstacles in caring about each other.
However, 1,300 years ago in Japan, people faced almost unimaginable challenges from the natural environment and lived their lives while caring about each other.

History of lives of people spanning 1,300 years

In Inagura, you can see a vast 2.5-km-long Tanada at an altitude of 640 to 900 m with the elevation difference of 260 m. It is said that this place was cleared to establish the current Tanada in the Genroku to Meiji periods (1688-1912), but it is believed that people started to live in this place in the Kofun period (from the mid-3rd to the 7th centuries AD) or earlier.

Inagura tanada b neo

The Otokoishi Shrine is beside Tanada in Inagura. The shrine is dedicated to a god of love and intercourse between men and women who, according to one account, is one of the 3 highest ranking gods in Japan. In the shrine building are sculptures of the male and female sexual organs, and the wall of the shrine is decorated by a signature board presented by Kanayama Shrine, which is within the grounds of Wakayama Hachimangu Shrine and is well known for a strange festival called Kanamara Festival. The Otokoishi Shrine is renowned for its power to fulfill fertility and other wishes.
Since ancient times, religions have often originated from anxieties about life and fervent wishes for life, and in the context of “ancient Shinto,” “nature worship,” etc., natural objects and phenomena such as an earthquake, lightning, mountain, tree, fire, and rock, are worshipped as gods, and the male and female sexual organs are also the subjects of worship because they represent fertility and fruitfulness. The Otokoishi Shrine has supported those wishing for abundant life. Why don’t you visit the shrine to feel the power of passions that have been maintained for generations here?

New benefits brought by running water and slopes

The environment of “Inagura Tanada” can never be said to be suitable for agriculture, but very-highly-rated rice can be produced thanks to the high quality water of the Inagura River formed from abundant spring waters. In particular, sake rice called “Hitogokochi” grown in this area is produced through agricultural work in which the female master brewer of the local sake brewery Okazaki Shuzo herself participates.

Inagura sake

She performs manual rice planting and harvesting together with farmers each year. Sake called “Shinshu Kirei: Ginjo sake with no added alcohol with Hitogokochi produced in Inagura Tanada” is produced using this sake rice. Since the production volume of the sake is small, it is basically not available outside Ueda City, but its rich aroma and savory dry taste are loved by local people and sake lovers.
Also, the landscape of steeply inclined Tanada has a very high rating and is attracting new fans because activities (such as “Eagle Flight Adventure,” a cutting-edge activity using drones, and “Tanada Camp” in which a tent is set up in Tanada during the agricultural off-season so that handson agricultural experience and the landscape can be enjoyed) are conducted by involving those who are not interested in Tanada and agriculture.
The passion of those who faced challenges from the natural environment has been maintained for generations, flows like a river and is conveyed from Tanada to a wide range of people.
This place is well worth visiting. We would love you to come and see Tanada.

[Information for gourmets]

Ueda Green Radish

Ueda Green Radishes help to reverse traditional common thinking about radishes.
Ueda Green Radishes are characterized not only by their decreased water content and slightly hotter flavor than ordinary radishes but also by their sweet taste.
When grating them, you will be surprised at the vividly green color; they also go well with soba noodles as a condiment!

Inagura daikon

The radish has less water content but is not dry and when using it as an ingredient of a salad, you will enjoy its fresh and sweet flavor.
Our recommendation is that you deep fry it in batter!
Because it has less water content, it will not become sticky and you can enjoy its soft and flaky texture! Be sure to try it at least once.

Kehara in KYOTO

Kyoto and Nara are ancient capitals of Japan.
You can see the countryside including beautiful Tanada (terraced rice fields) in Kehara after walking about 15 minutes from Oeyamaguchi-naigu Station, which can be accessed by train from Kyoto Station.

Website of Fukuchiyama City: Link)

No English website is available and only information about automatic translation services is provided.

Official website of the Kyoto Tourism Federation: Link)

Kehara tanada

A place where you fall in love with its community.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in April 2015, the number of “marginal villages” in which the percentage of elderly people aged 65 or older is 50% or higher of their respective total population is approximately 16,000 across Japan. If this sounds sad to you, that may be because you haven’t visited any of those villages in person.
Some young people have moved to this place from an urban area and happily live with their families. Some villagers are celebrated for the beginning of their new life, in a manner unique to this place, and other villagers provide support for the new life.
When visiting this place called “Tanada of Kehara,” you will see a landscape reminiscent of a film set and have a glimpse of traditional Japanese scenery where people live by supporting each other. So, although Japan is experiencing a low birthrate and aging population, you can take encouragement from such scenery.

There is a reason why people move here.

The Kehara Toge (mountain path of Kehara) (in Oe Town) has been selected as one of 100 Historic Roads for an event that occurred there in the Heian period (794-1185).

Kehara sato

After passing the Kehara Toge, breathing in the air of romanticism for the past, you will find yourself in “Tanada (terraced rice fields) of Kehara.”
You will see a beautiful, traditional Japanese countryside including approximately 600 rice paddies, which is situated a little away from the center of Kyoto. Thirty-three people live in this place and the community is called a “marginal village.”
However, the community is secluded like a legendary hidden village but has an atmosphere of kindness and compassion, which will command your attention.
In addition, this place was designated as a “special district for home-brewed sake of Oe, a home village of Shuten Doji (mystical demon leader of ancient Japan)” in 2009. Home-brewed sake called “Doburoku” is produced using rice harvested in Tanada, and a garden for picking blueberries has been established.
These and other new activities have been conducted by new residents who moved to the village and have come to fruition.
Things have begun to happen for those who fall in love with this place and have decided to start a new life without limiting their sources of income to agriculture.

This is a place where you make your dream reality.

After Mr. Iai was informed by his acquaintance about Tanada of Kehara, he visited this place and then thought “I want to live here.” He said that he had moved to Tanada of Kehara around 2015.

Kehara hito

Products of “iai hanaiten (iai Floral Apparel Shop)” produced by Mr. Iai have been well received via SNS sites and other online channels. Mr Iai said, “people in Kehara have a strong desire to accept newcomers but they keep a sense of proper distance, which is comfortable.” The residents helping each other may be a microcosm of an old but good society in Japan.

A couple has begun a new life in this fertile land.

The “Italian Restaurant & Wedding OZ” offers dishes prepared by making painstaking efforts to draw an original savory taste of local food materials and in particular home-grown vegetables.

Kehara restaurant

The dishes are delicious and their lunch menu is also much loved. Information on their wedding services that make the most of their exceptional location is spread via SNS sites and all reservations are full for the services on holidays.
The village is surrounded by fresh green rice paddies and trees in the summer and by red-colored mountains and golden land in the autumn.
However, its appealing points are not limited to the natural environment. It has other features to attract people thanks to efforts made by the villagers to utilize every resource of Kehara.

[Information for gourmets]

Doburoku of Oe named
“Tanada no Sato”

Doburoku (home-brewed sake) is a kind of Nigori sake (unfiltered sake) and uses rice and rice malt as ingredients like Japanese sake but does not undergo the filtering process and therefore appears cloudy white. Doburoku is permitted to be produced only in specified places. A place where Doburoku has been traditionally produced and used for divine rituals or other similar purposes is designated as a “special district for Doburoku” and its production is permitted there.

Kehara doburoku

However, Doburoku is often produced in small-scale establishments and is rare and only locally available. “Doburoku of Oe: Tanada no Sato” made from rice produced in Kehara is characterized by its sweet fruity flavor.
Even if you’re not fond of alcohol, if you mix Doburoku with soda, it becomes very easy to drink!I


Tanada Card Project Team, Regional Development Division,
Rural Development Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Japan