TAKANABE SUNFLOWER FESTIVAL
In 2010, the town of Takanabe suffered a devastating foot-and-mouth outbreak. At a loss for what to grow without the usual compost from his cows and pigs, a local cabbage farmer began to experiment and found that the land was suitable for growing sunflowers.
Although not traditionally a companion plant to cabbage, sunflowers are known to increase the presence of mychorrhizal fungi and promote phosphoric acid absorption in the crops that are planted after them.
The cabbage farmer pooled his resources with other members of the farming community and together they mapped out a maze of 10 million sunflowers stretching across 75 hectares of land. The farmers invited the townsfolk to view the first crop and the Takanabe Sunflower Festival was born.
Every August, over 11 million sunflowers bloom. Visitors can walk through the maze, ride tractors through nearby fields, or enjoy the view from atop one of two viewing decks. There are also stalls offering kakigori and other festival treats, and Takanabe’s town mascot, Taishi-kun, always makes an appearance.
You can help yourself to as many sunflowers as you like, since after the festival they are cultivated for compost. Just remember to bring your own clippers!