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 [井仁の棚田] 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.
Ini-no-tanada is worth visiting throughout the year as its character changes with the seasons. 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.
At the top of the valley there is a small visitor facility with nice toilets and photo displays. You may spot cages at the edges of the valley for trapping wild boar. However, you are really reminded that, although only be an hour from the city, you are deep in the countryside when you see a sign warning not to venture out early in the morning or at night in case you run into a bear.
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.
Address: Ini, Naka Tsutsuga, Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun, Hiroshima-ken 〒731-3702 広島県山県郡安芸太田町中筒賀井仁
Address in Japanese: 〒731-3702 広島県山県郡安芸太田町中筒賀井仁