Films and videos of irrigated rice paddies and their wildlife on American TV fired my imagination when I was a kid. I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to go walking in the rice paddies to catch the bugs, fish, frogs and snakes that make a habitat of rice fields and the areas surrounding them. Pictures of rice terraced rice fields like stairs on a mountainside inspired even greater (but impossible) childhood imagery. The terraced rice fields of Oku-Asuka or, “Oku-Asuka no Tanada” in Japanese, offer one a chance to realize that childhood or overseas dream of seeing terraced rice paddies in person.
Oku-Asuka (Deep Asuka) is a slightly remote part of an already rural area but it is well worth the effort to get there. Renting a bicycle or scooter (International Drivers Permit or Japanese Drivers’ License required for the scooter) from Asuka Rent-a-Cycle is a good bet for getting yourself to the Tanada (and to the other great sites of Asuka). There’s a depot right next to Asuka Station and next to the Ishibutai where the Nara Excursion Bus drops off and picks up. It’s a little over 3km to the Tanada from Asuka Station and just a little over a kilometer from the Ishibutai. Riding a bicycle through the beautiful countryside and watching the ever shifting view is a great experience. The winding, super lightly trafficked roads make zipping along on a scooter (or a convertible sports car) an irresistible fun time. Just don’t forget to stop and take a few photos and invest a moment in taking it all in and realizing your dream.
I saw the rice paddies of Asuka at the height of their summer greenery but locals and repeat visitors say that the best time to see them is during the spring planting season when the flooded fields mirror the sky. Ever realized a childhood dream? Happy travels!