A child walks through a sunflower field during the 11th annual Sunflower in Kitanakagusuku Festival, Okinawa, Japan, Feb. 10. While much of the world takes cover from the harsh winter, the festival is held to welcome the coming of spring in Okinawa with the growth of bright yellow sunflowers. Visitors were able to enter a few sunflower plots to be completely surrounded by the tall flowers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)
A child walks through a sunflower field during the 11th annual Sunflower in Kitanakagusuku Festival, Okinawa, Japan, Feb. 10. While much of the world takes cover from the harsh winter, the festival is held to welcome the coming of spring in Okinawa with the growth of bright yellow sunflowers. Visitors were able to enter a few sunflower plots to be completely surrounded by the tall flowers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge)

Sunflower in Kitanakagusuku Festival welcomes the coming of spring

by Lance Cpl. Nicole Rogge
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

Cool rain drizzled from the morning sky and gave way to sun as members of the local and military communities came together for the 11th annual Sunflower in Kitanakagusuku Festival Feb. 9-10.

While much of the world takes cover from the harsh winter, the festival is held to welcome the coming of spring in Okinawa with the growth of bright yellow sunflowers.

“It is really nice to be able to join the local community,” said Andrea Stacey, a Status of Forces Agreement member. “I love seeing the little venues they have and trying the different food.”
Street vendors sold a variety of organic local products including coffee, wine and butter.

“This is a great place to bring the children,” said Mami Chinen, a resident of Kitanakagusuku, Okinawa.

Visitors were able to enter select sunflower plots to be completely surrounded by the tall flowers. A scarecrow stood at the entrance of one, guarding the flowers and creating a good photo opportunity. The scenery made the perfect backdrop for photographers of any level.

The plots were open to the public to be planted at the end of November. Single Marine Program volunteers from Camp Foster filled two plots with sunflower seeds, and waited for them to grow for the coming festival.

“I am from Kansas, the sunflower state, so I got really excited when I heard about this,” said Stacey. “It means a lot to have a place to go to welcome spring,”

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