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Her Sunflower

I had a great time visiting the Akeno sunflower field. I would love to share my experience to everyone, so I wrote this little travel story. This may be a little strange for me to begin with but for me to fully explain my fascination with the Akeno sunflower field, I will start with my personal background story and explain what is interesting about the sunflower, so please bear with me a bit.

Sunflowers from the Akeno sunflower field

I was born in Texas, a culturally unique place. It is a place well known for cowboys, barbecues, and many other culture events that make Texas what is it. However, there are also things that Texas doesn’t have, and one of them is the sunflower. Sunflowers have been my favorite flower. I still remember when I was little, there were always bouquets of sunflowers on my mother’s desk. I remember she told me that sunflowers have always cheered her up at any time of her life. These flowers always looked elegant and full of vitality since sunflowers always turn towards the sun. Later in 2005, I moved to Taiwan with my parents. While staying there, I noticed many flowers around me, but I never saw a sunflower. After staying in Taiwan for several years, I was sent to Saitama, Japan for high school. My next step in life was to move to Yamanashi for my higher education, and it blew me away because there was nature everywhere. Yamanashi has plains around Mt. Fuji, has mountains and valleys with rivers, a place of great contrast when compared to city life; it’s a place of endless discovery. In one recent journey, I found the Akeno sunflower field in Hokuto, which is where I found the flower of my life.

The sunflower is a well-known flower all over the world, but the sunflower is originally from North America where it had been cultivated by the local population since prehistory (Heiser, Jr. 1955). The flower arrived in Japan somewhere in the Edo period from China. If you look at the meaning behind the characters used for sunflower in Japanese, then it means turning towards the sun (向日葵 himawari: 向mawari = turning, 日hi = sun, 葵 = flower).

In Mandarin Chinese, there’s a different word for sunflower which is 太陽花 = 太陽 (sun) and 花 (flower). It is interesting that the meaning is different from Japan as the Japanese one means “turning towards the sun” but in Mandarin it is used both 太陽花 and 向日葵 for sunflowers. Indeed, the name ‘sunflower’ is popular for Japanese girls with different version of the name; for example, 陽葵 “himari” which comes from “himawari”. Since the Heisei era (1989 - 2019), the number of the flower-based names for girls became more popular due to concepts of beauty (Barešov 2018).

600,000 yellow giants pointing towards the sun swaying in a gentle breeze. Upon arriving at the sunflower field in the Akeno, it felt like entering a different dimension. A dimension filled with endless sunflower fields; an ocean of yellowness caused by the bright yellow petals. While I was standing in the middle of the field, I could hear and see bees collecting nectar from the flowers. It was a beautiful day, and everything just fitted so well together: the beautiful surroundings, the mountains, the lush greenery, and an effervescent blue sky to match; the epitome of a perfect summer day. The scenery resembled layers of colors that one would see in a perfect rainbow; green and yellow on top (the sunflower and the leaves) followed by a darker and lighter green which represented the mountains and the greenery and at the top was blue and white, representing the sky and clouds. Each year, these dream-like sunflowers, basking in the sun, are hard at work making the surrounds beautiful for all to see. One can easily become so immersed in the sea of flowers that it becomes like a heavenly maze from a movie scene. There is perhaps no other place in Yamanashi that has the same visual impact and ambience, which makes me highly recommend the Akeno sunflower fields in the Hokuto city (北杜市); perfect for the artist, perfect for romantic getaway, and perfect for a person wanting to see another world beauty and tranquility. It just so happens that Yamanashi’s sunflower field is also popular among people in the prefecture.


A sunflower sea

Another unforgettable event is the Akeno sunflower festival which is held every year in July. Sadly, I couldn’t see the festival as it was cancelled because of covid. Luckily, I still managed to visit another sunflower field in the nearby area. People can visit and enjoy the beauty of the sunflower (himawari) and having a refreshing ice cream covered with sunflower seeds while appreciating these 600,000 giants, beautiful sunflowers in this charming sunflower field. It’s a good time to spend with your family and friends. I can highly recommend going to Yamanashi during the summer if you finished enjoying a cosmopolitan city like Tokyo or other popular destination such as Kyoto or Nara and want to have a nice day trip to see a different aspect of Japan. Yamanashi is filled with beautiful things such as sunflower field; however, this exceptional visual treat is not the only attraction in Yamanashi, one only needs to think of Kiyosato, Moegi no Mura village, and Doryuno Falls, which are largely unknown by outsiders.

This means these places along side of the Akneo sunflower field is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of a big city like Tokyo for Japanese people, without droves of noisy tourist crowding your space.

Central walkway in the sunflower field

Visiting the sunflower fields has been one of the most precious experiences for me personally; all the decisions since my departure from Texas have brought me to Yamanashi. I couldn’t visit the festival because of the covid situation this year but, I hope next year there will be a festival so I can visit and enjoy the sunflower seeds ice cream and the sunflower maze.


Hokuto City Official Website (Japanese):


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Vivian Chloé

Published on

  • June 1, 2022