Monday, February 6, 2012

Breathtaking Flower Fields Of Minamiboso

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The 100-kilometer journey from Chiba city (Point A) to Minamiboso city (Point B) in the southern region of Chiba prefecture.

Chiba prefecture spans from the southern region of Kanto and spans over the hilly Boso Peninsular (房総半島), a rice farming region in the east coast. Plains and hills account for most of the land area in Chiba prefecture, and it is the only prefecture in Japan which doesn't have any mountains higher than 500 meter above the sea level. It is also known as a prefecture with many terrains, long coast lines and vast inhabitable land. The Kuroshio Current flows near Chiba prefecture, which keeps it relatively warm in winter and cooler in summer than neighbouring Tokyo.

The Chiba Kun Ambassadors set off to their third and final tour last weekend, covering several tourist attraction spots in the southern regions of Chiba prefecture. Our one-day trip took us to Minamiboso city (南房総市), Kyonan town (鋸南町), Tateyama city (館山市), and Kisarazu city (木更津市). On a personal note, I have never been to this part of the prefecture and I was really excited when we were told this tour would take us to visit these areas.

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From left, Mr Takahashi (the director), Mr Hasegawa (the cameraman, who's facing backwards), Miss Kasahara (the reporter) and a staff from the prefectural office.

This time, we had the privilege of having the staffs from Chiba TV to do a coverage on our tour. Headed by the director of the show, Mr Takahashi, we had the reporter Miss Kasahara and the cameraman Mr Hasegawa, plus a couple of technical staffs to accompany us throughout the trip. Our tour is scheduled to be featured on the show, "Weekly Chiba" (ウィークリー千葉県) on February 18 at 10 p.m. on Chiba TV.

We started our journey from the prefectural office in Chiba city at around seven in the morning. The journey to Minamiboso city took us approximately two hours. While some of us dozed off during the journey, the remaining ones looked out the window and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the outskirts, with Mount Fuji visible in the background on a clear morning. I also had the chance to talk to Mr Takahashi and he mentioned that it was his friend who runs Kikuya, the famous restaurant in Narita. Miss Kasahara also started to interview some of us, and I was one of them. Not the best time to be interview when I was still half-asleep lol!

Our first stop was the Michi-no eki Chikura Shiokaze Okoku Third Shiramazu Flower Parking (道の駅ちくら潮風王国第 三白間津花のパーキング). Michi-no eki or "roadside station" is a government designated rest area found along roads and highways in Japan. In addition to providing places for travelers to rest, they are also intended to promote local tourism and trade. The shops found here sell local produce, snacks, souvenirs, and other goods.

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A signboard, showing our first stop of the day (photo credit: Sauleh Kerey).

One of the major attractions of Minamiboso region is the magnificent carpets of flowers which spread along the area. The geographical location of Minamiboso, which faces the Kuroshio Sea adjacent to the Pacific Ocean makes it a non-frost area blessed with a mild climate. Spring comes early in Minamiboso, as the flowers start to bloom in December. However, the flower season is only until the end of March, because these flowers are grown as the secondary crop to rice cultivation.

This area skips winter and soon it is covered with carpets of flowers, creating great photo shooting spots. Visitors can enjoy not only flower viewing but actually picking these flowers, growing healthy with the sea breeze. There are no less than eight flower beds scattered along the road in this region, but the most popular one is the Chikura Shiramazu flower fields located along Highway 410.

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Direct-selling flower shops selling freshly cut flowers just next to the parking area (photo credit: Olavo Avalone).

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Colourful flowers of various kinds cover the whole fields, making it a breathtaking sight.

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One of the mainly cultivated flower here is stock (ストック) or also known as Matthiola (picture credit: Masataka Ishizaki).

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The flowers are singles or doubles in a wide array of colors, such as pink, white and purple.

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Stock is well known to have wonderful scents and often used in bouquets of cut flowers.

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One stem of stock is sold for 100 yen.

Here, there are beautiful flower fields where visitors can pick them on their own, besides the direct-selling flower shops for those who wishes to buy some of the flowers back. The flowers sold here are known to be long-lasting, and also for its cheap price. That is why I spotted many florists who came here and went back in their vans full with flowers.

We visited the Chikura Shiokaze Okoku Third Shiramazu Flower Parking. The open-field flower cultivation fields concentrated around this area and ready-cut flowers can also be purchased here. This spot is popular as visitors get to enjoy the flower fields and also the magnificent sea at the same time. It is also frequently featured on TV shows and magazines, making it one of the must-visit spots in Chiba prefecture.

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Chiba Kun Ambassadors and Miss Kasahara (first from left) from Chiba TV, posing for a photo at the flower field (photo credit: Olavo Avalone).

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It is refreshing to walk along the rows of stock which produces wonderful smell.

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These two ambassadors aren't really taking photos, but was requested to act as if they are doing that as the cameraman records it haha!

I stopped by one of the little huts to talk with the lady selling flowers there. I forgot to ask for her name, so lets call her "mak cik bunga" haha wtf! According to her, the main flowers grown in this area are stock, pot marigold (金盞花), snapdragon (金魚草), poppy (ポピー) and baby chrysanthemum (小菊). When I asked a further question about the number of the flowers types, she started giving me some super extra long names of each species, and lets be honest, I had no idea about them at all lol!

You know what? I shouldn't have ask that question in the first place haha!

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A huge varieties of fresh colourful flowers for sale.

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Cute little wooden handwritten boards, written with the names of flowers and prices for each of them.

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Not too early to give a Valentine's Day flower bouquet to mak cik bunga I guess? See how happy she is lol!

She added that the unpredictable weather this year has played a huge effect on the flowers. Compared to previous years, it is comparatively colder this year and that has slowed down the flowers to come to full bloom. Nevertheless, it was a clear and sunny Saturday when we visited the place and we managed to enjoy the wonderful flowers, in which sixty percent of the flowers have fully bloomed. By the way, they started to plant the flowers in August and it takes about five months until the plants mature and start to bloom.

I was curious to know if stock originated from oversea, as it doesn't look like a native flower of Japan. However, our mak cik wasn't very sure as well. I did a quick research and found out that stocks originated from the Mediterraneans and Canary islands. They have been commercially cultivated as far back as the Roman Empire and used extensively by the commercial floral industry because of its spicy scent and long lasting blooms.

Stock is a compact plant with grey-green spike shaped leaves that produces a tall, strong flower stem with clusters of sweet scented flowers that can be single or double; both sometimes occurring on the same plant. It comes in a variety of colours like pink, red, lilac, and purple, but white is the most common of all.

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The proud mak cik bunga in front of her stall, although she initially felt very shy to be on camera. Once we told her that her photo will be viewed from all over the world, she laughed out and said, "Ohh no I'm gonna be a super star hahaha!"

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And see how cool is her stall's signboard! Even got her face on it lol!!!

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Took a photo with mak cik bunga, and look at how similar she looks like with the drawing on her signboard haha! (photo credit: Ishii Kenichi)

It resembles her so much that her fake silver teeth can be seen in the drawing too haha!


|| INFORMATION ||
Opening hours: 8:30 a.m. to sunset (January to April)
Closed: May to December
Parking spaces: 31 (Large: 3, Standard: 27, Disabled: 1)
Toilet facilities: 
Gents: 6, Ladies: 6, Disabled: 1

Address: 1397, Shiramazu, Chikura-cho, Minamiboso City, Chiba Prefecture, 295-0027, Japan.
Tel: 0470-43-1811 (Shiokaze Okoku)
Website: http://www.shiokaze-oukoku.jp/index.html (Japanese only)
Access:

Car:
(through Tateyama) Tateyama Futtsu Expressway (館山富津自動車道) → Tomiura IC (富浦) Chikura (千倉); (through Kamogawa) Kamogawa Toll (鴨川有料道路) → Kamogawa Route 128 (鴨川 R128) Chikura (千倉); (through Maruyama) Route 410 → Maruyama (丸山) Chikura (千倉)
Direct bus: JR Tokyo station Yaesu South Exit (JR東京駅八重洲南口), board the Boso Nanohanago (房総なのはな号)
→ JR Tateyama station (JR館山駅) → Chikura (千倉) → Shiokaze Okoku (潮風王国); ¥2,500, approximately 2 hours 50 minutes one way.
Train: JR Chikura station (JR Bus for Shirahama) → Shiramazu Ohanabatake
(白間津お花畑); 15 minutes.

~ to be continued ~

2 comments:

haikal said...

sambung ke keje calvin?

calvin said...

@ haikal:
entry towa chotto kankeishinai kedo, tudukanai ne. shushoku suru yo XD