Twenty minutes from the small town of Matsudai, the Hoshitoge Terraced Rice Fields undulate over a series of hills on private land which are easily viewed from the roadside. These rice fields are an especially photogenic example of the idyllic pastoral landscapes of Niigata Prefecture, one of the most prominent rice-growing regions in Japan.
From June to November, when the waterlogged fields reflect the sky, photographers flock to the area. Wintertime offers a quieter, more ethereal view when the terraces freeze over and the surrounding area is often covered in a layer of powdery snow.
These frozen, sculptural pools create a fantastical landscape as the ice and water reflect the sky and white snow of the hillsides. In the mornings and evenings, the frozen paddies are colored by the brilliant hues of the rising and setting sun.
Echigo Yuzawa Station can be accessed from Tokyo by Joetsu Shinkansen in about 80 minutes. You can transfer to a train on the Hokuhoku Line bound for Saigata and disembark at Matsudai. The Hoshitoge Terraced Rice Fields are 20 minutes away by taxi or car.