Field of dreams: More than a decade ago the town of Inakadate in northern Japan began looking for ways to bring in more tourists. But this rural community had little to offer: no sea, no major landmarks, just rice and apple trees. Then, a local clerk had an idea: Why not turn Inakadate's plentiful rice paddies into canvases? Since 1993 villagers have planted multiple varieties of rice in patterns that have evoked nearby mountains and the Mona Lisa. This past summer's chef d'oeuvre (pictured at left) featured a samurai battling a warrior monk. Villagers sketched the image on computers before planting and used genetically engineered rice to add more colors. Visitors now throng Inakadate every year to view its latest “crop.”
What Is It?
This article was originally published with the title "What Is It?" in Scientific American 303, 4, 27 (October 2010)