Friday, August 10, 2012

Sunflower Festival on the Chuo Line


EMU JR East 115 series (Yokosuka Color) stands at Ootsuki Station on the Chuo Line

The Sunflower Festival is a famous midsummer event in the Akeno area of Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture. In the festival ground, nearly 600,000 sunflowers are blooming on six hectares. Among the many sunflowers on view, we can admire the Hybrid Sunflower and special varieties such as the Prado Red Shade and the Tohoku Yae.

As the festival is held at the height of summer, it offers many outdoor programs. For example, visitors are able to enjoy an event to feel the charm of balloons. The balloon carries visitors to a height of 30 meters. It is very popular among children.

I often felt a strange mood while I walked in the sunflower field. To be exact, I felt eyes watching me. It was because all the sunflowers faced me. A round shaped sunflower looks like someone's face. Probably, I was spaced out.

To visit this fantastic sunflower field, I took a local train, the EMU JR East 115 series (Yokosuka color) from Takao Station on the Chuo Line. It is a standard commuter train, launched in 1963. Nearly 2,000 units have been manufactured for 20 years, but most of them have been scrapped. Currently they are designated as an endangered species by rail-fans.

It took 115 minutes from Takao to Nirasaki, the nearest station of the sunflower field. Passengers can enjoy looking at splendid clear streams and beautiful mountain ranges as well. The Chuo Line offers us easy access to a midsummer paradise.

Sunflower field in Hokuto City near Nirasaki Station on the Chuo Line