Feb 2, 2019
Over 300 terraced rice fields hug the side of a high mountain valley in Akiota-cho make for a beautiful site that attracts many photography enthusiasts and sightseers seeking a glimpse of a rural Japan that is fast disappearing.
Ini-no-tanada is designated as one of Japan’s top 100 locations to see traditional rice terraces and attracted some internet buzz when CNN included it in a list of Japan’s most beautiful places. According to the local tourist office, stone walls dating back 500 years can be found at Ini and the area is still used to showcase traditional rice farming methods. As the water used to irrigate the fields comes from mountain streams at high elevations, it is said to be some of Japan’s purest, making Ini-no-tanada-mai (Ini Rice) a sought-after delicacy.
The character of the rice fields changes throughout the seasons, making it worth visiting at all times of the year. It is arguably most beautiful between late May and the end of June when the paddies are filled with water and the rice seedlings planted. The reflections off the water and the patterns formed by the stone walls and the painstakingly planted seedlings are just gorgeous.
As the rice grows through the summer, the paddies are blanketed by luscious green which turns to a yellow as harvest time approaches. After harvest the paddies are less impressive, but have an altogether different character after a heavy snowfall.
Drop in at the cute Eeny Meeny Miny Mo cafe for some light food, a drink and great views over the rice terraces.
Address: Ini, Naka Tsutsuga, Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun
Best season: Between late May until September
Ini-no-tanada is only 4km from the Togouchi Interchange [戸河内IC] on the Chugoku Expressway and only takes about an hour by car from Hiroshima city. The rice terraces are at a high elevation so you do have to negotiate a narrow, steep and winding road. The narrow tunnel (only one car width) at the top of the road which brings you out at the rice fields is pretty cool in itself.
*Information is correct as of January 2019.
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