The Rice Painting Art Festival will be held for the 11th year and this year’s theme is Yatsugatake’s Jomon culture. Hokuto was registered as a Japanese Heritage as the Jomon World in the Chubu Highlands with Starry in 2018 with 14 municipalities in Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures.
There is a rare obsidian mine from the Jomon period in the Chubu Highland around Yatsugatake. Obsidian is a natural glass produced by volcanoes. Obsidians from Shinshu have good quality and are easy to be processed. They are popular and were widely used by people at that time as materials for various kinds of stoneware such as arrowheads and knives. The surrounding plateau area with its altitude of over 1,500 meters has been described as a star falling village because the pieces of obsidian dug up are scattered all over the plateau area, turning it bright. In addition, earthenware and earthen figurines depicting animals and plants living in the forest have been unearthed from the village at the foot of mountain. You can feel the richness of the lives of the Jomon people who were blessed with their high artistry and mountain ascents. It has long been known as a meeting place in central Japan for people who were searching for obsidian that was better than those found in the east and west.
A contest was held in elementary and junior high schools in the same area as last year. The winning design, which was screened by a judge panel, was used. At the rice painting arts venue, you can enjoy spectacular views with beautiful Yatsugatake and the best of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
In the neighborhood, there is the third-generation school building Fureiainosato. Three school buildings of the former Tsugane School which were closed in 1985 and symbolized the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras have become popular sightseeing spots. The Meiji School Building was restored as the Historical Museum and the Cafe, and the Taisho School Building was newly built and restored to various experiential facilities known as Taishokan where people can experience soba making and agriculture. And the Showa School Building has become a “delicious school” with newly rebuilt Italian restaurants and accommodation. In addition, the Minamiyatsugatake Flower and Forest Park offers cherry-picking and summer vegetable harvesting experiences.
Hokuto, located at the outskirts of the Southern Alps, is known for its clear water full of minerals which has led to it being “the place for exquisite waters” as well as their brand rice “Rihoku.” In privileged natural conditions such as having one of the longest hours of sunshine in Japan and its large temperature differences on the high altitude basin, have all made it be selected as “Special A” for 5 consecutive years in the food ranking. This makes Hokuto a prestigious place for rice.
Their rice paddy art event was started on the concept of “rice painting art festival” in 2007. Over three years in 2014, 2016 and 2017, the artwork depicted the growth of an owl parent and child, as the owl is the city bird. This has steadily developed to become an established regional event.
This year, they gathered design ideas from elementary school students in public, and announced the winner, making a design of the “Yamane” motif, a river fish species unique to Japan and designated as national monument in Japan. The winning design was chosen by several judges such as picture book writers, from among the submitted works. The Ministry of the Environment was alerted that the Yamene has become a near-threatened species, so in choosing it will be important to consider protecting them and encourage people to see it as a small animal of the city to be cared for.
From the beginning of July to the beginning of August, it is the best time to observe the spectacular view of Yamane fish swimming on the rice field, on the backdrop of a majestic view of the Southern Alps from the 5-meter embankment on the north side of the venue. During the time, they organize a SNS photo competition where participants can post their rice paddy art photography with a hashtag.