Matsuri da! (51): Lighting up the paddies
Posted by ampontan on Sunday, September 23, 2007
WHEN THE JAPANESE HAVE A BRIGHT IDEA for a festival, they have no problems with creating a tradition out of a new one. One bright idea was the Doya Tanada Fire Festival in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, which was launched four years ago to help publicize the preservation of the local terraced rice paddies. Matsuura’s paddies were selected as among the 100 best terraced rice paddies in Japan in 1999. (The Japanese like to select the best 100 of any geographical features in the country—they’ve also designated the top 100 scenic views and the top 100 mountains.)
Now that the crop has been harvested, 2000 torches are placed on 200 paddy ridges at 7:00 p.m. and lit, creating the effect shown in the photograph. If you’re in Nagasaki now, you’re in luck—the fifth festival will be held tonight. The appeal isn’t simply the effect of the torch light in the paddies, it’s also the location of the paddies next to the Korea Strait.
They’re flexible about the timing, too. Last year’s festival was held in May, when the paddies were still full of water, but there isn’t any water in them now.
If you want to see some more photos, you might try this Japanese page, though the links to the four photos are in English. This blogger took several photos, both in the late afternoon before the lights came on, and at night. And this site has 12 photos.
This festival features no drinking, mikoshi bashing, or other revelry—just some people taking the time to make their part of the world beautiful for a night.