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How terraced rice paddies bring Japan's inhabitants together

'Tanada' evoke a nostalgia that grips city dwellers and villagers alike

Terraced paddies in the Hoshitoge area of Tokamachi, a city in Niigata Prefecture, gleam next to crimson foliage in late autumn.  (Photo by Tomohide Yamaguchi) 

TOKYO -- It was a century ago that a discerning American geographer described Japan's terraced paddies as the nation's "pyramids." But they are more than that. In early summer, locals refer to the rice fields that rise like staircases up the slopes of mountains as mizu-kagami, water mirrors. In autumn, they are entranced by the fields' golden rice plants waving in the wind.

On the wide dikes that protect the paddies, trees turn red in the autumn and add to the scenic beauty.

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