Hidden Art

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

rice paddy art

The gathered crowd responded with amazement when they reached the top of the viewing platform and looked down. Once formerly hidden from their view on ground level, everyone could now see a massive work of art beautifully laid out in the midst of what initially appeared to be an ordinary rice paddy. As the spectators gazed with wonder, they were dutifully informed that in previous months, local farmers, townspeople and students had worked hard to produce the masterpiece now spread before them based on that year’s chosen theme. A simple rice paddy had become an art canvas and it pulled in thousands of visitors every year to this small rural village.

Rice field art, known as “tambo art” in Japanese, was initiated in 1993 by the villagers of Inakadate, located in Aomori Prefecture, as a means to revitalize their local economy by attracting tourists. Using rice seedlings of varying color in a designated rice field, the town folk have created incredible pictures which evolved in scale and complexity as their skills steadily improved with each passing year. Themes from past productions represent a wide variety of genres, ranging from Japanese folklore characters, iconic places, famous people and popular movies. The artwork can only be seen from an elevated observation deck cleverly constructed to imitate a castle tower. Every year over 100,000 visitors travel off the beaten pathway to take in this unusual sight.

Unless the artwork is pointed out to them, out of town travelers passing by on nearby roads are oblivious to its existence as the pictures can only be seen from a higher perspective. In the spiritual realm, the same is true in everyday life as events can easily pass by on a seemingly endless continuum where one seldom catches a glimpse of their possible eternal significance. As flesh and blood creatures, our perspective is often limited to what we can actually see and experience in the world around us, but the Creator of the Universe knows no such limitations. His ways, purposes and actions may remain hidden from our sight, but we are promised that one day, equipped with a heavenly perspective, all these things will be revealed to us. Until we ascend that elevated platform where we gain a better view, we are called to live by faith, trusting God’s masterful handiwork in the midst of what we do not presently understand.

Go to the link Japanese Rice Paddy Art to learn more about the phenomenon of tambo art and be sure to check out the embedded video for a short history lesson.

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