Funny Japanese Art: Encounter with Dragon Quest’s King Slime in Saitama “Kodai Hasu no Sato”
When I was driving on a country road in Saitama Prefecture, a strange tower emerged in the vast countryside. And did I see a monster at its foot!?
Suddenly background music started playing in my head from a game I loved so much when I was a child, and a ticker appeared in my imagination.
“I have encountered King Slime.”
“Kodai Hasu no Sato” in Gyoda City, Saitama
I encountered this huge monster in Gyoda City, which is located in the northern part of Saitama Prefecture. This city has many historic sightseeing places including ancient tombs and Oshijo castle, which was used as the stage of a Japanese movie titled “Nobo no Shiro (The Floating Castle)”. “Kodai Hasu no Sato (Ancient Lotus Pond)” that I am introducing this time is located in the suburb of this Gyoda City.
Miracle Flower of “Kodai Hasu (Ancient Lotus)”
Lotus distribution ranges around the world today. Its flowers are considered very sacred particularly in Buddhism and Hinduism.
Then why is this place considered a tourist destination of lotus flowers? It is because ancient seeds were excavated incidentally in a construction site here, and later they were found to have germinated naturally and opened flowers in a pond. These flowers have primitive forms from 1400~3000 years ago. Gyoda City grows and exhibits them to the public in Kodai Hasu no Sato as a natural monument.
Nowadays you can see 41 species of lotus plants around the world and enjoy flowers of approximately 20,000 lotus plants from late June through early August.
Rice Paddy Arts
Kodai Hasu no Sato was established to display ancient lotus plants for the general public, but lotus flowers end with the summer and there will be nothing interesting to look at afterwards. Considering what else could be done in this place, they have started depicting images on a rice paddy canvas several years ago as rice paddy arts.
Every year the theme of the picture is different. This year’s theme was “Dragon Quest”, the video game that originated in Japan. When this game was first introduced in Japan, fans seeking the game formed lines to buy it, making a social phenomenon. And not only in Japan, the game was made available world-wide later on. As you may know well, countless avid fans of this game still exist even today.
Rice paddy arts are drawn on the rice fields from July to the rice harvest season in September, and you can see it from the observation deck of the tower in Kodai Hasu no Sato.
How Pictures are Depicted on Rice Paddy Canvas
Rice paddy arts are primarily comprised in green and black, but they are not made by coloring rice plants.
For the green parts, ordinary seedlings are planted from commercially popular kinds of rice in Japan today. For the black parts, seedlings of “Kuromai (Black Rice)” are used. As the name indicates, you can harvest black-colored rice and the plants themselves are also completely black. This species is also called ancient rice, and it is known to have been used as a lucky charm long time ago. This species is rarely used today as a food variety.
Various seedlings are positioned and planted according to the design, and the picture gradually completes as the rice plants grow.
Straw Art of King Slime
Rice is a staple in Japan, and its harvest comes around from August to October. First the plants are reaped and dried. Then they are threshed with the rice part cleaned and polished by machines, and finally they reach the state to be sold in stores.
The rice stalks dried after removing the rice are called “wara (straw)”. Wara is used as thatching in traditional Japanese houses, in livestock’s sleeping quarters or as fertilizer. Japanese traditional footwear of “zori” was also made by weaving this wara until the Edo Period (1603-1868).
In the culture of rice cultivation in Japan with the rice grains being eaten as a staple and the wara being utilized as everyday necessities, all parts of the crop was being used without any part being thrown away as waste.
And wara is utilized even today to produce three-dimensional arts such as Slime and King Slime without being discarded. They are indeed monsters that have appeared in the rice field. And believe it or not, you can enter this King Slime and look at the structure from inside.
I will leave the inside as a surprise for you to experience it yourself when you come visit this place.
As there will be special lightings and illuminations around Christmas for a limited period, please arrange your visit to catch it. I am sure you can enjoy a fantastic view from a different perspective.
Access (Closest station)
JR Takasaki Line
Gyoda Station: From the east exit, take a bus on Gyoda City Loop. (They go around tourist destinations either clockwise or counterclockwise.)
Fukiage Station: From the north exit, take a taxi (approximately 8 km).
Gyoda-Shi Station: From the south exit, take a bus on Gyoda City Loop. (East-loop, clockwise)
Rice Paddy Art: Don’t Miss Japan’s Otherworldly Art!