Rape blossom maze in Fukushima in full bloom

Visitors to a rape blossom maze in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, walk through lines of flowers. The rape plants will be harvested in June to produce oil.

Visitors to a rape blossom maze in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, walk through lines of flowers. The rape plants will be harvested in June to produce oil.

FUKUSHIMA, May. 14 – A maze of rape blossoms, created on a farmland in the Kaihama district of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is attracting visitors from outside the region.

Takayuki Ueno, a 45-year-old local farmer, borrowed a farmland damaged by the tsunami and has been cultivating rapeseed and soybeans. Every year since 2013, he has been making the field open to the public after the blossoms bloom in late April in hopes of offering a place for children to enjoy. Some 10,000 people, including families with children, visit the place every year.

This year, he created two mazes of rape blossoms on a 2.2-hectare land, nearly twice the size of last year, with the help of volunteers. “It was difficult to get through, because there were many dead-ends,” said a 35-year-old company employee of Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward who walked through the maze. “I want to come again.”

The 2011 disaster took away the lives of 76 people in the district, including Ueno’s family members. “I hope to continue creating rape blossom mazes as a symbol of restoration,” Ueno said.

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