Lonely Planet Writer

See a rice terrace in Japan transformed with thousands of twinkling lights

This winter, travellers to Japan will have the opportunity to see a rice terrace transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland with the help of thousands of lights.

The rice terrace lit up in yellow lights. Photo by Tourism Section, Wajima City

Shiroyone Senmaida is a scenic beauty spot in the town of Shiroyone, Wajima consisting of 1004 individual rice paddies sitting in layers across steep hills and stretching across 3.8 hectares in total. As well as providing income and work for many families in the area, it’s also a nationally designated ‘special place of scenic beauty’ as it lies with a stunning backdrop of the Sea of Japan.

A festive addition to Shiroyone Senmaida. Photo by Tourism Section, Wajima City

In the colder months between October and March, however, something altogether more fantastical happens. Local volunteers team up to place 21,000 solar-powered lights around the rice terrace. The colours change every 30 minutes and provide an illuminating spectacle at night.

The ‘aze no kirameki’ (translated as ‘twinkling of the ridges’) is an incentive for more visitors in the winter months, as well as providing an enjoyable sight for the local residents. During the day, the rice terraces are often covered in snow but once darkness falls, the light show goes on for four hours.

Winter in Japan. Photo by Tourism Section, Wajima City

This year is the seventh year the lights have been organised and for 2017, a sound effect of chirping crickets has also been added.