Mabuni Sunflower Maze reminds visitors of Tohoku disaster
It has been five years since the disaster of the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and its following Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster took place. Okuma Town is one of the cities in the Fukushima Prefecture, the site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that was destroyed in the disaster and continues to contaminate the area to this day. In the aftermath of the disaster, Okuma Town and Aizu Sunflower Project Committee was established to grow sunflowers in Fukushima Prefecture and send their seeds to other prefectures to remind and carry on memories of the disaster.
In Okinawa, sunflowers from those seeds area grown at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman City, and used to make a maze to promote deeper mutual exchange between Okinawa and the three prefectures in the disaster-stricken area in the Tohoku region. The three, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures, bore the brunt of the disaster and are still in need of reconstruction assistance, much like Okinawa that was the prefecture that experienced enormous damage because of the war.
Local preschool children and park staff planted the seeds Dec. 14th last year. The maze is expected to open on the day of the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake, March 11, in order to have as many people as possible to pay attention to the day. The project has a website in Japanese.
The maze is scheduled to be open from Mar. 11 through 31st, although the schedule may vary depending on the sunflowers’ blooming situation of the flowers. The opening ceremony on Mar. 11 takes place at 10:00. The maze is open every day from 08:00-18:00. Admission to the maze is free.