Tours Offering Stunning Views of Rice Paddies Reflecting Morning Sun Set to Start in Yamagata Pref.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Paddy fields filled with water in Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, turn reddish as they reflect the sun rising into a cloudless sky soon after 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

NAGAI, Yamagata — Seasonal tours that give participants a spectacular view of picturesque rice paddies reflecting the colors of the sun rising over nearby mountains in Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, will start Friday.

During a preview tour that started before dawn Wednesday, the fields among a sprinkling of settlements turned orange as a day broke and the sun reflected off the water.

The Yamagata Arcadia Tourism Bureau planned and arranged the tours to coincide with the time of year when the fields are filled with water for rice planting. This is the fifth year the tours have been held by the bureau.

A Yomiuri Shimbun reporter participated in the preview tour, which departed from a lodge at the Doshojidaira ski resort before 3 a.m. The group walked for about an hour up 670-meter Mt. Kumano, which is on the list of Yamagata Prefecture’s 100 famous mountains, and then waited for the sunrise at an observation spot near Kumano Shrine at an altitude of about 600 meters.

Before long, the edge of the mountains began turning red. When the sun rose up into a cloudless sky just after 4:30 a.m., beams of pale orange light spread through the air and reflected on the water in the paddies.

“The scene changes from second to second,” said guide Kotaro Omura, 29. “No matter how many times I climb up here, I’m always excited about what view will appear before me.”

When the weather is clear, participants can also admire the starry sky before beginning the climb. On Wednesday, the Milky Way, Big Dipper and Cassiopeia constellation were clearly visible. An experienced guide, 70-year-old Fumiaki Yagi, also pointed out Mars and several satellites.

The tours run until June 2. Reservations are required and have to be made three or more days in advance.