Monday, September 15, 2014

Kiyose Sunflower Festival 2014

"Keep your face to the sunshine 
and you cannot see the shadow. 
It's what sunflowers do."

Helen Keller

"Live, laugh, love!"

The arrival of summer is often associated with the much-loved himawari or sunflowers. Along with morning glory, sunflowers are the representative flower of this this season throughout Japan. You find them at schools, houses, roadsides, and of course florists. There are several spots in the Kanto region where you get to visit the sunflower fields and one of the popular one is in Kiyose, a city in the northern part of Tokyo.

Here, visitors get to view a rare sight of Tokyo - a field full of over 100,000 sunflowers in full-bloom, all at once! This field measures about 24,000 meters square (that's the size of more than 2 football field!) and was originally a wheat field. After the wheat are harvested in June, they grow sunflowers as green manure and make it an annual event. This festival was started in 2008 and during the festival, besides enjoying the beautiful sunflowers, there are also stalls selling locally grown vegetables, including Kiyose's famous carrot shōchū (Japanese distilled beverage) and carrot jam. For photography enthusiasts, there is also a photo contest to take part at this sunflower festival.

A wonderful weather to make an outing to the sunflower field.

The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus; Helia for sun and Anthus for flower.  

Sunflowers originally came from the United States. However, the former Soviet Union grows the most sunflowers and it is no coincidence that sunflower is the national flower of Russia. 
There are more than sixty different kinds of sunflowers growing in the United States, Europe, Japan and Russia.

Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants. It requires only 90 to 100 days from planting to maturity and they can grow 8 to 12 feet tall in rich soil within six months.

Sunflower plants can be from 3 to 18 feet tall.  The tallest sunflower ever recorded was in the Netherlands (776 cm (25′ 5.5″) tall) grown in 1986 by M. Heijmf. That is more taller than a two-story tall building! 

There is only one flower on each sunflower stem. Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed.   

One sunflower can have up to 2000 seeds. There are two kinds of sunflower seeds - black and stripe. Oil is made from black seeds. Snacks are made from striped seeds.

A well-known sunflower characteristic is that the flowering heads track the sun’s movement, a phenomenon known as heliotropism. The daily orientation of the flower to the sun is a direct result of differential growth of the stem. A plant-growth regulator, or auxin, accumulates on the shaded side of a plant when conditions of unequal light prevail. Because of this accumulation, the darker side grows faster than the sunlit side. Thus, the stem bends toward the sun.   

It is pretty easy to get to there sunflower field. Visitors just need to get to JR Kiyose station (清瀬駅) on the Joban Line, which is under an hour from Tokyo station. There are bus platforms at the north exit of the station and visitors just got to hop onto the Seibu bus (西武バス) #61 bound for JR Shiki station south exit via Green Town (グ リーンタウン経由志木駅南口) on platform #2.

The bus ride takes about fifteen minutes and get down at Shitajuku-iriguchi (下宿入口). Once you alighted from the bus, there should be signboards showing the way to the sunflower farm. Here is the bus time-table and the method of getting to the sunflower farm from Kiyose station (both in Japanese only). Reference page here.


   Sunflowers are a great choice for planting to attract birds to your yard.

Thank you for reading.


life is beautiful said...

Love each of every photo u took, reminding me how beautiful sunflower is, and learn more about them!

calvin said...

@ Chye Sin:
Thanks Chye Sin. Yup, there were really beautiful.

But to be honest, I was there about a week early and there were half of the sunflowers there which have not bloomed yet >.<

Rei said...

itu dua orang tengah buat apa? hahah

btw. great photo dude

calvin said...

@ Rei:
Entahlah, diorang tengah berpancaran kot hahahaha!!!

Thanks for the compliment :D

Sir Loin of Beef said...

Was it open to the public before the festival date? I'm interested in going a few days before the official event date.

calvin said...

@ Sir Loin of Beef:
The sunflower farm is a private land and it is recommended not to enter the area outside the official event period.

For this year, the event is going to be held from August 16 (Sun) to 30 (Sun). Plenty of time there to arrange your schedule, I believe :)

You may refer to the official site (blog) as per below:
The site is in Japanese though.

-- Lu -- said...

Thanks for the clear instructions dude. Going later this month & was trying to find directions in English - not easy! One year later, your article is still helping others! Just wondering, is there anything else to do around there since it's quite a distance to travel from central Tokyo?

calvin said...

@ -- Lu -- :
Thanks for dropping by and your lovely compliments. Glad that the information here is helpful to you and I hope you will enjoy your trip to the sunflower farm.

Besides the sunflower farm, which is obviously the main attraction, the town also has Kiyose Keyaki Road Gallery (キヨセケヤキロードギャラリー) which is decorated by 30 interesting statues along the road. You might also want to drop by the Kiyose Kanayama Ryokuchi Park (金山緑地公園) that is famous for bird watching.

Hope the info helps :)