Today I went to the 20th annual Sakura Tulip Matsuri (festival) where I strolled through fields of beautiful blooms – some 550 000 in all! Sakura is a community to the east between here and Narita. The first tulips were planted there in 1989 to celebrate goodwill between the Netherlands and Japan. They were followed by the building of the landmark Netherlands windmill in 1994. It was made in Holland, shipped to Japan in pieces and assembled on site and is the first wind driven water pump in Japan.
In addition to enjoying the beauty of the tulips, it was great to get out into some wide open space! Sakura Furusato Hiroba (square), where the windmill and the tulips are located, is surrounded by a marsh on one side and fields on the others. I took the train to Sakura, then caught a free shuttle bus from the station. To reach the tulips from the drop off point, I walked a gravel pathway between the fields and alongside the marsh. Even though there were people everywhere, it was a very nice change for this girl from the country!
As I wandered through the tulips, I could hear street organ and accordion performances taking place and alongside the tulip fields vendors had set up stalls selling all sorts of foods and souvenirs. I treated myself to a picnic lunch of okonomi-yaki from one of the stalls. Okonomi-yaki might best be described as being somewhat like an omelet containing cabbage and various other fillings. We were first introduced to it when we visited Matt and Robin in Osaka three years ago. It’s really a Kansai specialty so we haven’t found much of it in this area. While I enjoyed today’s, it wasn’t as good as Matt makes.
In addition to the foods and other products being sold by the vendors, tulips are also for sale. In fact, those who want to buy them are given a trowel and a bag and head out to the outer fields where they can choose the plants they want and dig them up themselves. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I don’t have a garden here. I would have had a difficult time choosing from amongst the approximately 166 different varieties!