Kurume International Azalea Festival
Hendersonville, North Carolina
During a recent visit to Japan, I flew down to Kurume to see how the First Kurume International Azalea Festival was progressing. I met with the city officials concerned and toured the site for the affair. Plans are rolling ahead in high gear.
The festival is planned for April 15-23,1989, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Kurume City. A special azalea park, Green Plaza (Midori-no-hiroba), of about eight acres has been set aside for the display. The landscaping is already in progress and should be completed in 1988.
Already a staggering number of azaleas have been propagated in several nurseries for the festival. There are over 600 nurseries in Kurume which will participate in the festival, and, of course, the exciting plant auctions at the cooperative nursery center will be in full swing.
Foreign varieties, from the United States, Europe and China, will be on display. In 1986, Skip March took cuttings of the major American varieties to Japan and these are growing nicely. Last November, I carried plants of our native azalea species to Japan. They will become a permanent display when the affair is over.
There will be a number of cultural activities in conjunction with the festival including folk dancing and native crafts. I plan to lead a tour group to the festival and then follow my regular itinerary through Japan. Stops will include the major bonsai exhibition at Osaka, sites of wild azalea and andromeda, nurseries near Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Nikko, Angyo, the Omiya bonsai village and lastly, Tokyo.
Mid-April is a busy travel time in Japan and accommodations are tight. Visitors should make plans as soon as possible.