Hata district is located about 10km from Omi-Takashima Station. You can see 359 terraced rice fields. At the beginning of autumn, golden waves of rice ears fill this mountain village.
Compared to fields on flatland, terraced rice fields have three particularities. Firstly, the rice terrace sits at the foot of a mountain. The rice is really delicious because the air in the countryside is fresh and pure in Japan. The water is also clean and the farmers’ tender care for paddy fields makes rice excellent.
Secondly, we can have a great view of rice terrace from top of the mountain like photo above. This scenery is peculiar to Japan because about 70% of its land is mountains. So Japanese farmers have devised methods to cultivate farmland across the hillside. In the season when the paddies are irrigated, they reflect blue sky on their surface.
Thirdly, the terraced rice fields serve as natural dam. Thanks to its ridge, paddy field can store water in it and prevent a flood. Moreover, when the fields are carefully cultivated, they absorb water slowly, which avoids a landslide. During the season when the paddies are irrigated, the water protects fields against the strong wind and heavy rain to avoid an outflow of soil.
In some parts of Japan, rice terrace has been left neglected since the 1960s. However, the advantages of traditional rice terrace is being reevaluated today. In order to inherit traditional culture, prevent a disaster and preserve the environment, people do some activities in this Hata district:
Those who want to have a field can apply for village's funding system which rents one are of field for a year. They can join in rice planting in May and harvesting in September. Those who want more activities can take part in mowing twice a year and fertilization of fields. Other labors are done by local farmers.
After the harvesting, they receive either 40kg of rice in October or 10 bottles of sake the next year from a local brewery.
Especially, children can gain precious experience. They can learn how and from where rice they eat comes. Adults learn how hard the farming is in terraced paddy fields. Each field is smaller than that of flatland and has an irregular shape. That makes hard to work with a big combine harvester.
As there are many slopes, mowing is very hard. By joining in farming, they discover the fact that a constant care is really necessary to protect this classical paddy field.
In Hata area, there are farmhouses where you can stay, and families where even tourists can eat lunch in ordinary households. Reservations are required, so if you would like to go to the Hata area and experience life in a Japanese countryside, please contact us.