The Kitayama district lies 7km north of downtown Yaotsu at an altitude of 400m. This is where you’ll find the "Kamidaida terraced rice fields" selected in the 'top 100 terraced rice fields of Japan' and also in the 'top 21 of Gifu prefecture'. Long ago, the people here had cut away at the mountains and valleys, then stacked up granite rocks to build 123 terraced rice fields in a 5 hectare space. This land represents the legacy of our predecessors who devoted their blood, sweat and tears into somehow turning this land, unsuitable for farming, into a place that could grow rice.
Considering that there are massive terraced rice fields called Senmaida fields that still exist in other areas today, the terraced fields of Kamidaida aren’t very big. However, there are still some residential houses surronding the fields, which creates a very nostalgic scenery and offers calming atmosphere for the visitors.
The sloped surface boasts moss phlox in the spring and red spider lilies bloom in the autumn, making for a beautiful contrast with the green and gold colors of the rice paddies. That’s not all. You may also come across animals that are hard to find these days such as a wild boars, raccoons or antelopes running between the rice paddies or a snake slithering on the ground.
These terraced fields were not only for growing rice. The meticulously built terraced fields also served somewhat as a dam, preventing land-slides by accumulating water underground after heavy rainfalls. Also, water that slowly permeated into the ground became clean water over time, and was then used as drinking water.
Hopefully these rice terraces will continue to exist well into the future... This hope was the basis of starting Yaotsu’s ‘Rice Terrace Ownership System’ in 2005. We would like owners to deepen the understanding of growing rice through agricultural experiences while getting together with the local residents to get to know more about and learn to love Yaotsu. This is the passion that makes up Yaotsu. New owners for the terraced fields are always being recruited. The rice harvested from those fields as well as other Yaotsu signature products are provided to the owners as souvenirs.
Above all, the excitement of ‘going to your own rice field’ will add some fun to the daily life of new owners.
By the way, have you heard Kamidaida’s Legend of the Surviving Warriors who fled the enemy? They say that during the Genpei War, surviving soldiers of Heike came to this secluded region and settled down. There are no official historical documents left, but we know that there were many ‘Kobiki’ (Kobiki: people who work with saws) at the time and it’s not hard to imagine that the surviving warriors found work in the local lumber industry to make their livings. Also, all families in the Kamidaida area has the same last name 'Iwai'. This gives more credibility to the legend.
The current Kamidaida is a calm landscape that doesn’t show a trace of the surviving soldiers. It is a mysterious space that gives visitors a sense of nostalgia.