We all know that maps have unlimited uses–from way-finding to problem-solving. Now computer mapping is being used in Japan to create rice paddy art.
In 1993, the village of Inakadate, Japan, began using different varieties of rice (purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai and green-leafed tsugaru) to create vast murals in paddies. Their goal was to draw money-spending visitors, and come they did, over 15,000 of them this past harvest season alone.
Early in the process, before computer maps became a necessity, mistakes were made. The giant Mona Lisa was too fat and lacked proper fingers. Villagers appealed to a teacher to create computer-generated maps in order to calculate color proportions, plant numbers, and placement of stakes to serve as planting guides. Over a thousand villagers volunteer each spring, but never see the “grains” of their labor until harvest.
Now that mapping is a staple in the process, the paddy art gets more and more sophisticated every year. Tourists trek to see this living art exhibit from the faux medieval castle on top of the Inakadate village hall.