See Fields of Yellow Sunflowers in the Summer Sun at APA Resort Joetsu Myoko
Check out the sunflower magic worked by “Gardening Magician” Kazuyuki Ishihara in Joetsu Myoko!
Sunflowers in Japan
Sunflowers, called himawari (向日葵) in Japanese, have a fairly long history in Japan. They first arrived in the country in the 17th century, during Japan's Edo period (1603-1868), and were originally met with an unenthusiastic reception. Taste at that time dictated that small, dainty things were more beautiful, and the big, bright sunflower was dismissed as showy and overwhelming.
But the unrestrained natural beauty of the sunflower soon caught on in Japan too, and people began to like the bright yellow flower. In 1666, Nakamura Tekisai published Japan's first illustrated encyclopedia, called the Kinmo Zui (訓蒙図彙), which referred to sunflowers as a popular plant at the time. As the book grew in popularity among Japanese gardeners, so did the sunflower, spreading across the country through encyclopedia pages and word of mouth.
Over the years, sunflowers spread throughout Japan, and have even become tourist attractions in places like Hokkaido and Yamanashi. But the most recent addition to that list of must-see sunflowers is the Sunflower & Kochia Kingdom at APA Resort Joetsu Myoko. This unique floral display was put together by a man called a magician when it comes to gardening, who's even got a few gardening gold medals under his belt: Kazuyuki Ishihara. Ishihara took his landscaping art to the next level in Joetsu-Myoko, planning out fields planted with 27 different kinds of sunflower, and a million sunflowers total.
All worn out after frolicking through the field of sunflowers? Next to the flowers you'll find a church-turned-cafe, where they serve sunflower-themed sweets, afternoon tea, and six flavors of gelato for good measure.
Afternoon Tea at Garden Chapel Cafe Mon Ami
When the weather cools, travelers will find new things to enjoy at the resort. The other half of the Sunflower & Kochia Kingdom is, well, kochia bushes. An enormous field of the low bushes turns a gorgeous red color at the end of summer every year, when the sunflowers fade away.
When the weather starts to cool, APA Resort Joetsu Myoko is also home to Apallusion, a massive "illumination" event where light displays brighten the night!
For a taste of local cuisine before you go, keep an eye out for "kanzuri" (かんずり), a local specialty. This unique chili paste has a fresh citrusy flavor, without tasting like the widely available yuzu-kosho (柚子胡椒, yuzu fruit and black pepper).
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⇩ See more of the sunflowers in our video below! ⇩