Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead, different colours of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields.
As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.
The largest and finest work is grown in the Aomori village of Inakadate, 600 miles north of Toyko, where the tradition began in 1993.
The village has now earned a reputation for its agricultural artistry and this year the enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, are visible in a pair of fields adjacent to the town hall.
More than 150,000 vistors come to Inakadate, where just 8,700 people live, every summer to see the extraordinary murals.
Each year hundreds of volunteers and villagers plant four different varieties of rice in late May across huge swathes of paddy fields.