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Flower festivals abound across Okinawa

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2009-03-20

From orchids to bougainvillea to Chrysanthemums, the island’s filled with the vibrant colors and fresh scents of flowers, with no fewer than a half-dozen festivals now under way to celebrate.

Festivals have been popping up since January, when the sakura--Okinawa’’s cherry blossoms--began blooming, and the fragrances and brightly colored flowers await from Nago City south through Uruma City, Okinawa City and Tomigusuku City, near Naha, the prefecture’s capital city. All are worth a visit, and camera’s are an absolute must.

Several festivals wrap up this month, but others are open to the public through May 6th. Nago City’s Chrysanthemum and Orchid Doll Exhibition runs through March 31st, a festival that’s more than just flowers. This Okinawa Flower Festival is an eye-catcher because the dolls on display are made from orchids and Chrysanthemums. The festival’s theme, “Atsuhime’, pays homage to one of the most famous ladies in Japanese history. It runs 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily at Neo Park Okinawa. Admission is ¥630 for adults, ¥315 for students 13~18, and youngsters 4~12 pay only ¥210. Neo Park is in Nago City; take the Okinawa Expressway to the Kyodo exit, then follow signs into the city.

Southeast Botanical Gardens has its festival running through March 31st. Located in Okinawa City’s Chibana district, the Botanical Gardens features bougainvillea and a good many Okinawa greens such as aloe, all grown in a natural environment. Admission for adults and teens is ¥1,000, while those under 12 pay ¥500. Take the Expressway to Okinawakita exit, then follow signs on the five-minute drive to Southeast Botanical Gardens.

The Fruits Land Tropical Flower Festival in Nago City is in full swing through May 6th, with colorful tropical flowers and tropical fruits available to see, and in some cases taste. The festival is at Okinawa Fruits Land in the Tanemata district. Admission is ¥800 for everyone 15 and older, and ¥400 for visitors 4~14. The Okinawa Expressway to Kyodo, then Highway 58 to Nago City, is the easiest and fastest route.

Uruma City is hosting the Bios Hill Urizun Flower Festival through May 6th at Bios Hills n the Ishikawa Kadekari area. A wide variety of orchids are in bloom throughout the park. Admission is ¥690 for everyone age 13 and older, while those under 12 pay only ¥350. Bios Hills is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Imperial Japanese Navy Underground headquarters in Tomigusuku City is the setting for the annual Flower Festival campaign at and around the visitor’s center. The site is open daily, with a full range of tropical flowers on display. To reach the Imperial navy Underground headquarters, take the Okinawa Expressway south to Tomigusuku City, then follow signs on the 15-minute city drive.

Several other festivals are all running through the coming weeks. Visit the Ananas Festival at Nago City’s Tamemata district, or the festival at Ryukyu Mura in Onna Village. The Yanbaru Tropical Flower Garden, Ocean Flowers in the Chinen Area, Okinawa World’s Bougainvillea Flower Festival and Yanbaru Tropical Flower Garden are all good sites to check out.

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