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Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces 白米千枚田

Terraced rice paddies overlooking the sea form a classic Japanese landscape

Zig-zagging, hillside rice paddies contrasting with the blue sea form a view that draws photographers from around the world to the Shiroyone Senmaida rice terraces.

The beauty of Shiroyone Senmaida changes dramatically with the seasons. In January and February, the hillsides are often covered in white snow. From the end of April to July, the sunset reflected on the water of the flooded rice paddies creates an infinity pool effect with the sea as the backdrop. In the summer, the fields turn a striking green before ripening to gold in August and September. In warmer months, traditional wedding ceremonies are sometimes held at the rice terraces. Couples who get married there are blessed by the Shinto kami of rice paddies. From mid-October to mid-March, after the rice has been harvested, the terraces are illuminated at night with 25,000 solar-powered, color-changing LED lights.

Since the rice paddies are built on a steep slope and are narrow and irregular in shape, they cannot be maintained with machinery. Instead, local farmers and volunteers plant and harvest the rice by hand. This traditional way of cultivating rice has been recognized by the United Nations as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System. Unfortunately, the aging population of the area means that the future of the Shiroyone Senmaida rice terraces is in doubt.

The shop and cafe next to the rice terraces feature local delicacies and agricultural products, including rice from the area.

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