FUKUOKA, June 17 – On June 9, the Toho village in Fukuoka Prefecture held “Taketanada no Himatsuri,” a local festival that features torches of over one thousand. In July last year, the village was severely hit by the concentrated heavy rainfall that struck the northern part of the Kyushu. The villagers still find it difficult to recover some of the local stepped rice paddies (tanada in Japanese) but decided to have the event to express their hope for the quick recovery of the region. So, they decorated the paddies in the Take district of the village with approximately 1,200 torches to allure the travelers.
Tanada in the Take district is in the list of the top 100 most beautiful terraced rice fields in Japan of the farm ministry of Japan. Since 2009, the villagers light up the rice fields using the hand-made torches in June every year.
The torrential rain took the lives of three villagers and destroyed the houses of more than 160 families. The landslides also damaged some of the 400 local stepped rice paddies and washed away their waterways. And today, the damages are still there.
“Should we have the festival this year?” The answer to this question given by the locals who wanted to preserve the beautiful view of the paddies in the Take district was clear. It was to keep the festival as usual to thank people who supported them in recovering from the blow, and at sunset on June 9, 2018, they lit the torches as they did last year.
Young farmers are engaged in restoration efforts as well. A 47-year-old vegetable farmer, Yoshitaka Kumagai, formed a group of guardians who want to keep tanada in Toho with approximately 20 other members.
The team raised 1.03 million yen, more than it intended, via a cloud funding
platform, and used the money to buy rice grown locally and send it to the supporters who participated in the scheme. Also, on June 3, the party invited approximately 50 people, the supporters and their families, to the village and planted young rice together to strengthen their ties.
“We younger generations also have a will to do something for the region. We want to keep doing what we can do in the future, too” Kumagai said.