The site of the Uheyama rice terraces, located in Mikata, Hyogo Prefecture, was chosen as one of Japan's 100 Top Rice Terrace Sites in 1999 (Heisei 11). A rice terrace is a rice field made in a stair-like pattern on the slope of a hill.
As you come along Route 482, Uheyama rice terraces are on the right, beyond the sign to Yoshitaki Campsite, with the mountain range rising up behind them.
Uheyama rice terraces are most beautiful in autumn, when the golden ears of the ripening rice blow in the wind. In early summer, the water channeled into the rice fields reflects the mountains beautifully, while in high summer, the growing rice creates a green carpet. In this way, you can enjoy scenes of the rice terraces changing from season to season.
Such sights as these represent an original landscape of Japan that helps make people feel in tune with nature.
The Old Nara Highway (National Road 308) dates to the C8th and is the main road that used to connect with Kawauchi until modern times. Kuragari Tōge (455m) is a mountain pass on the prefectural boundary between Osaka and Nara and was a tollway that once bustled with traders coming and going from Osaka, or pilgrims visiting shrines, or daimyō on their way to pay regular attendance at the Shōgun's court in Edo.
These days, tourists can easily visit this area by driving along the Shigi-Ikoma Skyline road along Mt Ikomayama, where they will see the remains of old stone paving, guidepost, and old rows of houses. There are a lot of historic sites around Kuragari Tōge, such as a monument to the Yanagisawa daimyō of Koriyama and a stone statue of Amitabha Buddha. In the Edo period, Bashō crossed this pass and left an excellent poem describing it.
The views of Ikoma city is superb. And one can see splendid terraced paddy fields extending before one's eyes.
The Uchinari Rice Terraces are ricefields with a stair-like formation in the Uchinari district, Hamawaki, located south of Beppu in Oita Prefecture.
In 1999, the Uchinari Rice Terraces were selected as among the top 100 Rice Terrace of Japan by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The terraces consist of 1000 fields and the area is some 42 hectares wide, making it the fifth widest of the top 100 rice terraced areas in Japan. The terraces are also the largest and most beautiful in Kyushu.
The Uchinari district has a long history and is first recorded during the Kamakura period. Even today, rice cultivation continues in areas such as Seba, Taromaru and Kajiwara. These places use spring water that has its source at Sekijo Temple.
There are no fallow rice fields here, and they are managed by the whole settlement. The Uchinari Rice Terraces are sustained by various efforts such as participatory agricultural events, the chance to own a rice terrace, and distribution of the rice harvested here.
Ryoai rice terrace was selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Rice Terraces in 1999. The total agricultural land with an area of 4 ha consists of 120 pieces of rice terraces. These terraces spread on the steep slopes on the both banks of the Takisada River, which is one of the feeder streams of the Amari River and runs between the villages of Takisada and Kobira in the southeast part of Amari Valley in the southern part of Innai-cho, Usa City, Oita Pref. As the paddies are built on a narrow strip of land and the slope is very steep, terraces are retained with stonework. As it is really painstaking to work on a rice terrace, both villages are facing the problems of depopulation and ageing. The villagers are still practicing the traditional farming method of Kakeboshi (method of drying rice stalks to harvest the grain) and unite efforts to preserve this excellent landscape. The stone-made Ryoai Bridge over the Takisada River provides a nostalgic scene. A lot of tourists and photo manias visit this rice terrace during the rice-planting or harvest seasons.
Hadaka Rice Terrace located at Yamakuni Town in Nakatsu City, Oita Pref. is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Rice Terraces. There are 70 rice paddies with a total area of no more than 4.9 ha. A rice terrace is terraced rice paddies built on the steep mountainside. Rice paddies are essential to our human lives in that they preserve nature, retain water, and prevent landslides. Surrounded by the forest of cedar trees and various broad leaf trees, Hadaka Village is a small mountain village, where less than 15 families live. Most of the families earn their living by agriculture. This simple and idyllic village has recently introduced the system of ownership of rice terraces, by which they intend to maintain an interchange with people living in cities.
Senmaida are the rice paddies that rise up in terraces on mountains, near hilly places or on sloping sea-shore sites.
On terraced rice paddies, it is difficult to use mechanized farming methods because of the shape of the land. Ancient farmers had to carefully consider where they were going to position the paddy fields.
Water presents a problem, too. Water can easily run off the slopes, so it is difficult to save. Because the senmaida are located on high land, so the temperature of the water stays cool. High hillside areas also suffer from frequent droughts and are easily damaged in cold weather. In short, senmaida are less productive than lowland rice paddies.
But through ingenuity and hard work, Japanese farmers have silently made senmaida become fields of rice ears growing heavily on slopes. The paddies rising up the hills make for exquisite patterns, too.
Located in Kiwa, near Kumano in Mie Prefecture, Maruyama Senmaida is a beautiful group of terraced ricefields that have been designated among Japan's 100 most beautiful.
The word 'senmaida' means 'thousand-layered small ricefields'. There are over 1300 terraced fields; some reputed to be so small that farmers are heard to say, 'I found the field I lost, it's here under my bamboo hat'.
A while ago, depopulation had reduced the number of ricefields to nearly 500, but thanks to the local population combining efforts with Kiwa-cho and the adoption of an owner-system, the number of ricefields is back to what it used to be.
The narrowest field is only two tatami-mats wide, and the elevation difference between the lowest and highest terrace is nearly 100m. It is impossible to use machines because of the steep incline of the terraces. Therefore every single blade of rice is reaped by hand.
There are many steep rice terraces in Japan, but Maruyama Senmaida leads in beauty and in its state of preservation. It can be said that these rice terraces literally comprise a scene of peaceful interaction between humans and nature.
The terraced ricefields of Kashiharano-tanada are located in Kamikatsu-cho, Tokushima Prefecture. The ricefields are enclosed on all sides by mountains that rise 1000 meters high, and cover the hills to a height of approximately 650-700 meters.
The 500 ricefields are variously shaped and appear like a fortress rising up. In 1999, this site was chosen as one of Japan's 100 top rice-terraces because of its magnificent, exquisite scenery. When filled with water, the ricefields reflect the mountains and clouds like a mirror, and the scenery in which the tranquil arcs of the reflections string together is simply breathtaking.
On the outskirts of the tanada are many other places of interest including a temple called Akiba-jinja, which is famous for 'the three-moon' legend. This has it that three moons were seen rising at one time. Another point of interest is Mt Yamainudake (997 meters high), which presents an exceptional view like a painting when the autumn leaves surrounding it change color.
The Kashiharano-tanada and its captivating scenery will make any visitor feel nostalgic, and will soothe the hearts of the people who visit it.