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Thursday, March 1, 2018

"Himawari Matsuri (Sunflower Festival), Kitanakagusuku"

Sunflowers standing strong


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Himawari Matsuri (Sunflower Festival), Kitanakagusuku Village

     GPS
    LatitudeLongitude
    N 26 17.843E 127 48.622




Himawari Matsuri (Sunflower Festival), Kitanakagusuku 

The start of the new year marks the beginning of a whole host of flower festivals here on Okinawa. Traditionally, it begins with Cherry Blossoms. But in late January to early February starts another special flower occasion,...the Himawari Matsuri, or Sunflower Festival, in Kitanakagusuku Village (北中城村のひまわり祭り). This is relatively a recent installment of flower festivals here on the main island first starting in 2008. About 10,000 square meters of farmland are dedicated to these yellow beauties. At full capacity, they can hold up to 400,000 sunflowers. Special events during the festival period will vary from year to year. You will also see booths along the main street selling arts and crafts, vegetables, and other gifts for your enjoyment.

Basic Information.
When: Late February/Early March (varies annually) (2018 – March 3 to March 18)
Time: 1000 - 1600 (this is a non-gated area, you can come and go as you please)
Fee: Admission Free
Website: himawaribatake.net or visit Facebook Page here
Phone Number: 098 935-2233 (Industrial Promotion Division )
YouTube Video: Click this VIDEO to see a past sunflower festival

Amenities/Facilities. Normally, portable toilets are dispersed near the parking lot areas. Be prepared to improvise if need be. Baby Strollers/Wheel Chairs: Around the sunflower fields are paved roads for ease of movement. However, it may be difficult to go inside the flower field itself with any kind of transport. There are areas that are padded down for ease of movement.

Directions/Parking (new location). The new field is in Waniya of Kitanakagusuku Village. Take Highway 329 south into Kitanakagusuku Village. The field is south of the Highway 81/Highway 227/Highway 329 intersection. There will be three (3) landmarks to the west side of Highway 329 to guide you in: Building with "Caleb" written on it, Family Mart, the ESSO Gas Station. At the next traffic light signal south of the ESSO Gas Station turn east (towards the ocean). You will be guided by signs. You will also see a large apartment complex. The sunflower field is walking distance to the west and across from this complex.

Directions/Parking (old location). Take Highway 81 from either Highway 329 (from the east) or Highway 330 (from the west). On the map above you will see a LandMark Pin. This is a JA-SS Gas station on the south side of Highway 81. On the opposite side is a Cocos Convenience Store. If you are coming from Highway 330 you will turn right just before the JA-SS Gas Station. If you are coming from Highway 329, you will turn left just after the JA-SS Gas Station. After you make this turn, you will see flag banners and road guards (during the day hours of the festival period) directing you to parking areas. Parking will be in close proximity of the sunflower fields (normally at the middle school nearby).

Source of information. Okinawa Times (Japanese Only), http://article.okinawatimes.co.jp/article/2013-01-27_44493, Official Website (outdated) http://himawari-in-k.jimdo.com (Japanese Only)

"Tsutsuji Matsuri - The Azalea Festival"

Admiring the Azaleas 


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Tsutsuji Matsuri (The Azalea Festival)


     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 38.235E 128 09.413




Tsutsuji Matsuri (Azalea Festival), Higashi Village

Every March, Higashi Village hosts the Azalea Festival, or better known to the Okinawans as 'Tsutsuji Matsuri'. The Azaleas are part of the genus Rhododendron, with these particular flowers being part of the subgenus 'Tsutsuji' (or 'Tsutsusi'), which are evergreen Azaleas versus their North American counterparts that are deciduous in nature (leaves fall off in the fall). The festival occurs at the Azalea park about 500 meters away from Highway 70. The festival itself last about 3 weeks long with various events and entertainment spread out during this period. However, you can still view the Azaleas for the entire month of March. Please visit the Higashi Village website for more information (Japanese only). They will have a schedule of major events and entertainment during the festival period.

The park itself is a nice walk on both high and low ground. Down below are small nature walk areas where you can see the Higashi greenery and some of the streams that flow between the hills. High up on the hills are several areas where you can view down and out toward the Higashi landscape. If you love nature and especially flowers, then this is great place to bring the family.

Time Frame: Entire Month of March (2018 Festival Period March 2-21, Flowering Viewing March 2-25)
Time: 9am-6pm
Entrance Fee. 300 Yen for High School Students and above, free for Middle School and below, and free admission for people with a disability
(For update and current information please visit website below)
Website. http://www.vill.higashi.okinawa.jp
Phone number for festival information.  098 043 2265
Food stands. Hot foods starnds are available during the festival period
Stroller Friendly. For the most part, the park is baby stroller friendly

For related articles on the Tsutsuji Matsuri see, http://www.okinawastory.jp/en/special/festivals_hotels/special/f_festivals.html 
http://www.okinawa-information.com/blog/azela-festivaltsutsuji-matsuri 

For information about Azaleas, please visit, 
http://www.pbase.com/azaleasociety/evergreen
http://www.azaleas.org

Directions. Take Highway 329 into Nago City. Then take Highway 331 going north on the eastern side of Okinawa. From Highway 331 take Highway 70. Look for the road signs off of Highway 70 that point to the Azalea Park. During the festival period you may see numerous banner flags along the road side that lead you to the Park. See map for other landmarks of the area.

Other places of interest nearby: The Sakishima Sappanwood Tree (Higashi), The Higashi Museum, Meoto Waterfall.