Written and Images by Eummie Chik | Eumifairy
Translation by Wendy Yiu
Sado, Niigata, Japan is the second largest island in Japan, with an area of about 1.5 times that of Tokyo. It takes about 2 hours from Tokyo to Niigata by Shinkansen, and about 1 hour by gas boat before arriving at Sado.
In June 2011, the terraced fields of Sado City were listed as (GIAHS) for after "Sado rice, grown in harmony with the quintessentially Sado toki-friendly environment" broke out to maintain natural ecological balance. It promoted low pesticide and low chemical fertilizer cultivation methods. Iwakubi Shoryu Tanada (terraced rice fields) from Iwakubi area has a height of about 350 meters retains the original scenery of Japan nearly 400 years ago. There is clear water on the mountain with the scenery of the sea is spectacular. It is a great enjoyment of life to take a lunch on the terrace or on the observation deck.
Iwakubi Shoryu Tanada (terraced rice fields) is a piece of steep land opened up as early as the Edo period. There are 460 farms of different sizes. Due to the special terrain, large machinery cannot be used. Many locations can only be cultivated by hand, and the number of farmers has gradually decreased. If there is no one to manage the weeds on a hill, it will be ravaged by wind and rain, so it is not easy to preserve the natural landscape and culture for 400 years. However, the aged farmers have spared no effort to preserve this beautiful scenery. The rice they bred is not only recognized as the highest-rated rice (Grade A) by Japan Grain Inspection Association, but also works with Gakkogura School brewery to produce Japanese sake, named "龍のめぐみ" this year.
Oishi Soichiro, a farmer who produces rice in Iwakubi Shoryu Tanada, was born in Sado. At the age of 68, he was also a terrace tour guide and chairman of Sado Tanada Conference. During the guided tour, Oishi-san will take you to walk around each viewing position of the farm, and also share with you some fun facts of animals, plants and cultivation in the terraced fields like a biologist.
In addition to organizing different promotional activities, such as protecting terrace fields or studying agricultural production with college students or foreign voluntary groups, he also organizes activities like “terrace fireflies", "rice field planting experience", "rice field weed removal experience", etc. He has also cooperated with some clothing and camping supplies brands to sell rice and protect the natural ecological environment.
“The population is decreasing, the area of terraces and rice production also gradually shrinks, and there are currently only 33 farmers left behind.” said Oishi-san. He said humorously that only age is growing every year.
There is an observation deck at the top of Iwakubi Shoryu Tanada . The scenery is breathtaking. During the holidays, local residents also come here to see the scenery. They even say that it is a beautiful scenery that you can never get tired of as the seasons change.
The planting period is around May, and you can see the mirror-like farms turn green in summer, and weeds need to be constantly removed during the period; from the end of October to November, when the rice starts to be harvested, the entire mountain will be the most golden yellow; when winter comes, it will be all white.