The rice fields of Aragijima Island あらぎ島の棚田

Rice terraces in the middle of an island in Kanasai

In Aridagawa in Wakayama prefecture, the Aragijima rice fields spread out like a fan; a unique and unchanged scheme since their creation in 1655. Located in the middle of a small islet, these rice fields feature prominently on several lists designating the most beautiful landscapes in the country.

A legacy from the Edo period

The Aragijima tanada are unique in that they sit on a small island surrounded by the Arita River, which has its source at Mount Koya. This extraordinary topography has also earned them their name of Aragijima or "the island of Aragi". This islet, whose appearance is reminiscent of the Greek letter omega (Ω), results from erosion by the river.

In the 17th century, the Oshoya of the district, Sataô Kasamatsu knew how to take advantage of the unique topography of the place by converting this strip of land into rice fields. For this, this officer with authority over several villages had a 3.2 km long irrigation canal dug in 1655 to bring water from a tributary of the Arita River to the island.

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Aragijima rice terraces

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Although the place is magnificent in all seasons, every September 6 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm, a night show further enhances the landscape. For this particular evening, 1,700 lanterns are lit and arranged in the rice fields.

The event celebrates the birthday of Prince Hisahito of Akishino, born on September 6, 2006, and his link by descent with the region since his great-great-grandfather, Shoichiro Kawashima (1870-1947), is from there.

For those of you unfamiliar with Japanese imperial genealogy, Hisahito of Akishino is the son of Prince Fumihito of Akishino and Princess Kiko Fumihito of Akishino, the grandson of Emperor Akihito and the nephew of the current Emperor of Japan, Naruhito.

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The observatory offers stunning views of the Aragijima Rice Terraces

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Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Timetable

    By car from Osaka, take the Kinki Expressway. At the Matsubara Interchange, take the Hanwa Expressway and exit at Exit No. 25 Arida IC. Take the prefectural road 22 for 5 kilometers then the national road 480 and continue for about 26 kilometers to the Aragi no Sato bus station.
  • Price

    Free
  • Access

    Open every day

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