50,000 Azaleas to Bloom in the North East
Only a few weeks after the cherry blossoms reached full bloom on Okinawa, azaleas are up next in the spring flower lineup.
From March 1 - 24, Tsutsuji Matsuri, or Azalea Festival, will return to Sonmin no Mori Tsutsuji En (Villagers’ Forest and Azalea Park) in Higashi-son, for its 37th installment. Known as a village of pineapples, water and flowers, this northeastern village is about a 40-minute drive from Camp Schwab and 90 minutes from Camp Foster.
Spring in full swing
According to the village office, about 50,000 azaleas draw around 40,000 people every year.
The flower park in Higashi Village provides a superb view with the colorful flowers set against deep green forests or the blue sky and ocean.
Dance and music performances are scheduled to be presented at the venue, and playground equipment is expected to be set up during the festival.
While you’re visiting the flower park, don’t forget to explore other sites which make this “village of the east” a great place for some nature hiking and flower-gazing.
At Tsutsuji (Azalea) Eco Park adjacent to the Villagers’ Azalea Park, a boat tour on a dam offered only on the weekend, showcases the location’s lush surrounding forest.
For some great strolling, try Hirugi Park, a mere 10-minute drive away from the azalea parks, which offers a boardwalk through a forest of Rhizophoraceae mangrove trees.
Compared to Okinawa’s busy, resort-scattered west coast, Higashi-son is quiet. When March comes around, it’s time for the east side of Okinawa to shine. Although it may still be too early for pineapples, there is more than enough to see in the “Village of flower, water and pineapple.”
Higashison Tsutsuji Matsuri (Higashi Village Azalea Festival)
Location: Higashison Min no Mori Tsutsuji en (Azalea Park in Higashi villagers’ Forest)
GPS: N 26°38'17.6" E 128°09'33.0"
Dates: Mar. 1 - 24
Admission: 300 yen for high school students and above; free for middle school students and below
Special Feature: Azalea flowers will be lit up at night on March 9 and 16 from 6 - 9 p.m.; Entertainment such as live music, dance, sketch-comedy shows are scheduled for March 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24; Many food stands are expected to open during the festival.
* Free Parking
*Boat ride costs 500 yen per person (Saturdays and Sundays)
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