It is a pig poor village of elders
and children, forgotten by Tokyo,
its earners gone elsewhere.
But the schoolchildren began it,
a fun project of planting two tone
patterns of rice to learn the old
skills of working the paddy field.
The village committee cogitated.
Diversify … tourism … their superiors
had instructed; they had debts, ailing
rice fields, time and nothing to lose.
Meticulously they planned, staked,
mirrored their sacred mountain in rice –
the whole village came out. The idea grew.
More intricate patterns, more seasonal
helpers, computer generated designs.
And now thousands upon
thousands of rice plants
push their leaves skywards
through spring into summer
to sway gently in swathes of
rich burgundy, vibrant yellow-white
and all the shades of green through
‘hint of’ to emerald to deep ivy.
A Sengoku warrior gallops hectares
with panache, cartoon characters
exaggerate themselves, even
Napoleon and the Mona Lisa get
a look in; and always the snow-capped
mountain which has played god to
the village since time began, since
the first planting of life-giving rice.
The visitors come in their thousands;
their cars block the highways, they squeeze
through narrow streets, climb observation
towers to exclaim in wonder, spend little
and leave. The harvesters pull up two
thousand years of belonging in handfuls
from the soil. Inakadate will not let go.
More planning begins; the mountain looks on.
© Patricia Leighton