A strong image to Asia many people have is terraced rice fields. Found on the outskirts of Ena and only reachable by car, the Ena Sakaori Tanada terraced rice fields are truly a treasure of the Japanese ‘inaka’ or countryside. It is not a traditional tourist attraction but a place to escape to and take in the beauty of rural Japan. Don’t be surprised if you are the only person there apart from the odd rice farmer working in the fields.
Though the rice growing season is from around June to October, the beauty of the terraced fields can be appreciated at any time of the year with the ragged beauty of the small stones that make up the terraces. The fields are most spectacular in the summer months when the rice grows and becomes a brilliant green. Frogs can be seen hanging out in the rice fields enjoying the cool water and some bug appetisers while snakes slither among the rice stalks looking for their next meal. The integral relationship between nature and the basics of human nutrition are right in front of you. As we walked down the valley we felt hugged by all life around us. The pools of water in the fields capture and reflect anything that the rice plants don’t block in its view. Even when we looked down we could see the sky and mountains; all intertwined in a web of life. The line of mountains on the opposite side of the valley form a guard and are only broken by a small valley tucked in. We have been out to Ena Sakaori Tanada several times and have on a few occasions seen an artist putting this scenic view to paper.
There is a small car park up the mountain above the rice fields and also a limited space to barbecue. There are small roads and paths between the rice fields and it is definitely worth taking a walk down to the bottom of the rice fields to appreciate the beauty of the entire area. When we arrived at the bottom we followed a small stream up a path and discovered a large old wooden waterwheel overgrown shrubs. It was hard to find but it simply added charm to an already magical place. Nearby we found a small tadpole pond with some rickety wooden planks sufficing for a bridge, leading out to a large rock in the middle of the pond. We sat, relaxed and took in all that Ena Sakaori Tanada has to offer; the quiet beauty of a landscape providing a romantic outing for couples or just a contemplative space for oneself.