Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I know an Old Lady who lives in Izumi : Travel Photo Thursday 5/12/2011

As I'm sure you’re all well aware, farming is a seasonal business. In most cases, you plant in the spring and harvest in the fall with a lot of hard back breaking work in-between. Fruit trees can be both a blessing and at the same time problematic. They are planted once and relatively maintenance free. With a little tender loving care, you can reap the benefits for years to come. But what do you do in the mean time?
Another problem farmer’s face is that land is a premium commodity here on Okinawa. Tangerine or Mikan as they’re known locally, are largely relegated to the more mountainous areas of the island like the Motobu peninsula. The rugged topography doesn’t really make it easy to put down a second cash crop. The Mikan trees do provide a blessing in that normally un-tillable land can be utilized. The trees also provide stability and prevent landslides. But what do you do during the ten months or so that you’re not harvesting?
Fortunately the long growing season on Okinawa makes it excellent for growing flowers. Believe it or not, they're a main cash crop here. Farmers across Okinawa provide a steady supply of flora for the many flower shops throughout Japan. One thing that makes the Ajisai (Hydrangea) gardens of Izumi so special is that this farmer happened across a profitable enterprise and combined it with something they loved. That meant it didn't always seem like work.
The little old lady who started this garden is now in her mid 90's. Through the investment of a great deal of backbreaking work, time and a whole lot of love she and her family have turned these rugged hillsides into a work of art. Just one visit and the visitor gains an appreciation for the hard work and ingenuity of these intrepid people. The Ajisai gardens of Izumi are indeed a work of genius. Here you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through a work of art, take in the beauty, enjoy the fragrance and feel a sense of peace that only a masterpiece of art could produce.
This is my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday for May 12th, 2011.


  1. Keith,
    Ya caught those beauties at a good time. I had forgotten all about the Ajisai, thsi year. They always are in bloom for Mother's Day and the wife loves them.
    Shucks, guess I'll have to get her a case of beer, now.

  2. So beautiful. I love hydrangea, especially the blue one :)

  3. Gorgeous shots the color.

    Thanks for another great Travel Photo Thursday.

  4. Beautiful shots! Does she harvest them to sell or just grow this as a garden?

  5. Great story accompanied by beautiful pictures! Love the colors in those flowers.

  6. I love hydrangeas - and here in Vancouver we get some gorgeous colour in the fall hydrangea show with dusty purple - blue combos.I know BC hydrangeas ship across Canada but wonder what the market is for the Japanese flowers.

  7. Evan & Nora,

    It's a combination effect. They do sell some flowers but, the primary income from all this is a very modest fee of 200 Yen ($3.00 U.S.) you can browse the gardens. They also have a small coffee house gift shop.

  8. Beautiful photos! This reminds me of the Azores, Portugal. They have more hydrangeas growing wild than I've ever seen before!