The Rice Terraces of Skyward Dragon in Iwakubi

There are some rice terraces in Japan, but this is the only place you can see the beautiful rice terraces and sea at the same time with a local “Granpa”.

What’s The Rice Terraces of Skyward Dragon in Iwakubi?

The Rice Terraces of Skyward Dragon in Iwakubi is located northen Sado Island.

There are a small village alog the coastline and the rice terraces called “Skyward Dragon” are beautifully spreading at more than 350 meters above sea level.

The Japanese government brought land under cultivation at the 17th century, and local people inherit 460 rice fields until now.

The winding path to the top of the terrace looks like a dragon going up to the sky, so they call it “The Rice Terraces of Skyward Dragon”.

No one lives around the top and there is no agricultual pond, and the rices grow with natural water such as fresh water from the mountains and rain.

The shape of the fields are all different and unique, so it’s not so easy to cultivate there by a machine.

Local people keep standing on steep slopes and mow the grass from time to time to make the rices grow well, so it takes time and many hands until the tasty rices are brought to our mouths.

The rices growing up with the morning sunshine and fresh sea breeze has delicate sweetness and very tasty.

It’s also grown up with freshwater so safe too.

How to get there?

It takes about 1hour from Ryotsu Port by car.

Go straight along the coastline to Akadomari or Ogi Port, and you will see the notice on your right side.

After turning right to the entrance of the terrace, you will see the old school.

The pictures of local people’s life style are displayed and you can see painting gallary on the 2nd floor.

It used to be a Iwakubi elementary school but now closed due to reduction of the number of the local kids, but local people decided to reused it as a office for rice terrace there.

In the middle of the terrace, there is the smallest rice field in all.

The size is almost same as a dining table, but it has only 2 bowlful rice!

Now you know why the rice is precious and a little pricy because it takes so much time and hands.

There is a viewing deck and you can enjoy the all rice terraces and sea.

This deck is called “Mameraka in the sky” and “Mameraka” means “Take care” in the regional dialect.

Just come up here, sit on a bench, breathe fresh air and enjoy the scenery spread out before your eyes.

It will make your day. 🙂

The only place to see a local Granpa

There are many rice terraces in Japan, but what makes this place unique is a local Granpa, Mr.Ooishi.

He is in charge of maintaining this rice terraces in Iwakubi, and so many people come here even just to see him.

He has flexible mindset, optimistic philosophy of life and humor.

He calls himself “Old geezer” and tells us the history, culture, tradition, agriculture, nature in Iwakubi and his life.

His sincere words, sometimes with humore, resonates in our heart over generations, and everybody just LOVE him!

And I’m not an exception. 😉

He said,

I wish Japanese people could be proud of our country more. Most Japanese look outside of Japan and try to imitate other countries, but we have already given a lot and can be proud of it. Some people stay in the countryside like here complaining this or that, but we might wanna enjoy everything if we live here at all.

When I came back home, I sent him an email to express my gratitude, and then got a following reply.

Thank you for coming to Iwakubi all the way! Let’s make this island enjoyable and the place where values diversity and kindness to others. I would rather suggest than criticize.

This Granpa definitely makes this place special.

The best timing for photo shooting

This rice terraces are beautiful through 4 seasons, but I think the rice-planting season from Apr to May would be the best.

Especially the moment when the rice fields filled with the water are getting the morning sun.

The morning sunshine reflect brightly to the glassy natural terraces and it’s so beautiful.

When the weather is nice, you might be able to see Mt. Yahiko on the Japanese mainland beyond the sea.

To respect the locals
– Agricultural cars have priority over regular cars
– Please use local guide for walk in the area
– Please take your garbage with you and keep the place clean

The waterfall to bless with good children

When you come to the rice terraces, you cal also visit waterfall of 29m nearby.

This is a place where Buddhist asceticisms are practiced in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

It also has a legends to bless you with good children.

Certified as GIAHS for the first time in Japan

The GIAHS project was launched in 2002 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The Sado City in Niigata Prefecture and Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecturewere certified as GIAHS(Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) for the first time in Japan.

Address:Iwakubi, Sado city, Niigata