Chrysanthemum illuminations worth the look

Brightly lit Chrysanthemum fields are an American invention that Okinawan flower growers have eagerly adapted.

Chrysanthemum cultivation is one of Okinawa’s most common agricultural enterprises, as the island has the ideal weather to cultivate the flower for sale all over Japan.

Although many in Okinawa consider the most famous flower to be the hibiscus, the chrysanthemum has actually been recorded in Japanese history since the Heian period (794 – 1185), when it was mostly used as a medical herb. It is said there are over 350 types of chrysanthemum, for both decoration and to eat. It is also printed on the 50 yen coin and it is the family crest of the emperor.

In Okinawa, chrysanthemum is cultivated all over the island and also in the nearby smaller islands such as Ie and Kume islands, and mostly using a method utilizing artificial lighting on the fields. This method was designed in the U.S. to ensure that the flowers matured just right time for harvest to be sold at the peal seasons when they fetch top prices.

The rationale for this method is to fool the flower into sensing it’s daytime when the lights are on even in the dark. That results in the stem of the flower growing without having the flowers bloom. Being that the longer the stem is, the longer the flower lives, it results in higher prices and value.

Nowadays, the lightings on the fields are seen annually from November through February and into early March. Many Okinawans enjoy the “illumination” and go out for late night drives to enjoy the scenery.