Located in the east central portion of the Kii Peninsula in central Mie Prefecture, is the city of Matsusaka. The city is famous for Matsusaka Beef, which comes from the black-haired cows and is prized in both Japan and internationally for its high fat-to-meat ratio. But just over an hour away from the city of Matsusaka, along Route 166 you will come across something else that is perhaps just as equally prized. Spanning an area of 5,800 square meters, which is equivalent to 20 tennis courts, you will find Niji No Izumi or Rainbow Fountain.
The site was created by ceramic artist, Kenji Azuma (1938-2013) and was his life’s labor for 35 years. He devoted 365 days a year, every year for 35 years, creating this impressive place. Azuma had visited Sri Lanka as a young man and was very moved when he saw Sigiriya (Lion Rock), an ancient palace located near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya, which once served as King Kasyapa’s new capital, is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 660 ft. high. The king built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of the rock, he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. Consequently, the site was named, Lion Rock.
Upon returning to Japan, Azuma wanted to create something that was equally impressive as Lion Rock. He began his work in 1978, creating large formidable pieces consisting of smaller pieces, which he fashioned by hand and baked in a kiln. To this day, his work remains unfinished although his wife has committed herself to finishing her husband’s work according to his will. Azuma is survived by his wife and daughter who maintain the land and welcome visitors on a regular basis. Visitors to Niji No Izumi can purchase a raw, clay tile for ¥5,000 and inscribe whatever they want on it. The tile is then painted and baked in the kiln and incorporated into what is called the Wall of Iris, which is located on the west side of Niji No Izumi.
There is no bus service available to this site in Haze. The best way to reach it is by car on Route 166 traveling toward Sakuria (Nara Prefecture).