A sea of bright golden flowers riding the slopes of green hills awaits you in the town of Yokohama. Despite the mighty winds and threat of rain in poised thunderclouds, thousands of people had gathered here for Yokohama's Nanohana Festival. This should not be confused with the Yokohama near Tokyo, this Yokohama is a small farming town in northern Aomori right at the doorstep of the Shimokita peninsula. It's also a far more stunning sight in my opinion than it's metropolitan counterpart.
As for the whole "nanohana" thing, it refers to the luminously gold rapeseed flower, also known as canola. Every Spring the fields around Yokohama are painted with nanohana, providing the visitor with a beautiful and serene landscape.
The nanohana are not only pleasant to gaze upon, they are the key ingredient to many delicious "only made in Yokohama" foods. The flowers are used in ice cream, doughnuts, oils and many other fares. The nanohana plaza in Yokohama sells these products . My favorite are the nanohana doughnuts that were beyond amazing, especially when they are delivered to you warm because they are made only minutes beforehand.
The festival itself is held on the third weekend of May each year. In the middle of a nanohana field, food stalls and an entertainment stage are set up next to a maze of flowers about 4 feet tall. There is also a helicopter which can take you up for a short ride to see all the fields from the sky for a fee. The festival spans both Saturday and Sunday, but Sunday is host to a marathon. In 2014, the year I went, there were over 1,000 people from all over Japan who took part in the marathon. On any normal day of the year, Yokohama is a sleepy agricultural town. But with the arrival of the nanohana, it springs to life.
If you follow the pinned location on the map provided by this article by car, it will lead you to the "Nanohana Plaza" — the actual festival grounds are nearby. By train, take the JR Ominato line from Aomori City and get off at Mutsuyokohama. From the train station, it's about an hour walk or so to the festival grounds, but the nanohana can be seen everywhere you go in town.
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