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.
The beauty of Aragijiima rewarded
Few places can be proud of so many titles and awards: ranked among the "100 most beautiful rice terraces in Japan", "100 best natural landscapes in Kansai", the "100 most beautiful sunsets in Wakayama prefecture" then awarded with the prize of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the category "Cultural landscape" in the "competition of the most beautiful Japanese rural landscapes".
The Aragijima rice terraces (or tanada ) are unanimously recognized as a site of exceptional beauty.
But know that this recognition applies to the landscape as a whole and not just to the rice fields. Indeed, the title of "Cultural Landscape" actually honors a vast area of 110.7 hectares including both the rice fields and the surrounding landscape (the mountains, the river, etc.). Under the heading "Cultural Landscape", the Japanese authorities intend to underline the exceptional character of this landscape shaped by the work of man and preserved for more than 350 years. Ultimately, the Aragijima rice terraces and their environment are an invaluable cultural heritage testifying to the rich history of the region
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.
Apart from a restructuring of the lower part of the rice fields in 1964 following floods, the Aragijima rice terraces have an appearance unchanged since 1655! Covering a total area of 2.4 hectares, the 54 rice fields are now cultivated by six farmers; all members of the Aragi Island Landscape Conservation Association established in 1996.
Aragijima rice fields light up
Many photographers and curious flock all year round to the observatory which overlooks the rice fields. The view is breathtaking!
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.
A word of advice for visiting the Aragijima rice terraces: to make the most of this magical atmosphere that attracts many tourists to the observatory, plan to arrive no later than 5:30 pm. During the winter, between the beginning of December and the beginning of February, the rice fields are once again illuminated with the help of 3000 solar LED lights for the Aragijima Illumi Terrace.
How to access Aragijima Rice Terraces?
To go to Aragijima, we recommend that you rent a car to reach the rice terraces.
By car from Osaka, the trip only takes about 2 hrs.
Access: Take the Kinki Expressway to Higashi-Osaka, for example, or one of the entrances from eastern Osaka (about 20 minutes). At the Matsubara Interchange, take the Hanwa Expressway. Leave the highway at exit n°25 Arida IC. Take prefectural road 22 (Kibikanaya road) for 5 kilometers. Cross the Arita River and turn right at the light. Enter National Road 480 and continue for approximately 26 kilometers to the Aragi no Sato bus station. This is located on your left at the edge of the road.
Once you arrive at the bus station, you have two options :
- Choice #1: park your car and take the gently sloping road behind the bus station. Continue on foot for 700 meters to the observatory (about 10 min). If you haven't taken something to eat, the cafeteria at the bus station offers dishes based on konjac, tofu, and local vegetables.
- Choice n°2: from Aragi no Sato, follow this same gently sloping road that passes behind the bus station for 500 meters. Turn left at the parking sign. This small car park has public toilets.
Under no circumstances continue your journey by car to the observatory. Parking is prohibited and dangerous. Choose one of the two parking lots.
Address, timetable & access
TimetableBy 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.
AccessOpen every day