Along The TOKAIDO with Hollistar Ferretti
Mainishi Daily News by Hal Drake
Heralding the coming of spring and in a glorious celebration of thanksgiving for the bounty of year round flowers, the city of Miyazaki holds a Flowers Fiesta. Hundreds of thousands of flowers in a tapestry of thousands of flowers in a tapestry of color coordinated, patterned patches, transform the General Sports Park into a dreamland. The spectacular opened with a grand show of pomp and ceremony on March 27 and will continue until April 27.
Mayor Teizo Nagatomo greeting Amb. and Mrs. Lee Khoon Choy of Singapore at the Miyazaki Flower Fiesta.
This floral extravaganta attracts great crowds every year and it gives visitors a chance to explore the wonders of Miyazaki Prefecture, the birthplace of Japan.
Responding to an invitation by Mayor Teizo Nagatomo of Miyazaki City, a representative group from the diplomatic corps were honored guests at this year’s Flower Fiesta. Enjoying the experience were Ambassador and Mrs. Posthumus Meyjes of the Netherlands, Ambassador and Mrs. Lee Khoon Choy of Shingapore, Counselor and Mrs. Kyu Jung-hwang of Korea, First Secretary and Mrs. David Middleton of the U.K. and their son Henry, Cultural Attache David Anido of the Canadian Embassy, Mr. and Mrs. William Morgan, director Fukuoka American Center United States Information Center.
In Tokyo, the outing was coordinated by Nobuyuki Sakamoto, associate managing director, Foundation of International Education, and his team from the related International Intelligence Communication Center, Kaz Drake, Osamu Kato and Richard Nibley.
Debarking from their hour-and-forty-five-minute ANA flight, the VIPs were met by city officials and a battery of news photographers.
The Netherlands Amb. Posthumus Meyjes, Mayor Mitsuaki Kawagoe of Nishinan and Mrs. Meyjes at Obi.
Miyazaki would seem to be a city of gardeners. Trees and plants along the roadside have a well-tended appearance. The program, initiated some years ago, has expanded. Between the devotion of the city, Miyazaki will indeed be a garden city, completely landscaped.
Luncheon atop the Plaza Hotel, overlooking the Oyodo River proved a pleasant ice breaker and offered an aerial view of the city.
Korean Counselor and Mrs. Kyu Jung-hwang at the shrine on Aoshima Island.
Lodgings were in the Hotel Phoenix, a modern, class hotel overlooking 36-hole golf course and the ocean. This is the site of the prestigious Phoenix Dunlop Tournament with the largest purse in Japan.
Amb. And Mrs. Lee Khoon Choy with Richard Nibley(center) at the gate of Obi Castle.
The evening of their arrival, at the reception held in their honor, they were greeted by Mayor Teizo Nagatomo of Miyazaki City, Mayor Shigemi Nakatake of Saito City, Mayor Mitsuaki Kawagoe of Nichinan City and other dignitaries.
The buffet was lavish and the service superb. Welcoming speeches were warmly received and graciously answered. In the brief ceremony, Amb. Lee presented Mayor Nagatomo with a bouquet of orchids, Singapore’s national flower. In comparing the two countries, the ambassador said that Singapore had but a short history and their citizenry represented many ethnic origins. For example, the hybrid orchid that is their national flower was discovered by an Armenian girl in a bamboo grove… their national anthem was written by an Indonesian.
Amb. Meyjes reminded his hosts of the long association of their two countries. During the centuries of the Tokugawa isolation policy, the Dutch station at Deshima was Japan’s window to the Western world. It was singularly appropriate that the Netherlands was represented at the Flower Festival as their flower industry is of major importance to their economy, the export of cut flowers and bulbs flown to world markets. They have, however, run into difficulties getting bulbs into Japan, a problem they have been addressing for some time. “And so I can symbolically present you, Mayor Nagatomo, with but a single bulb.”
The Middleton family David, Henry and Georgina.
Robert Adams of Miyazaki Medical College presented an enchanting slide show picturing the sites of legendary Japanese mythology accompanied by his informative, humorous narration.
The sun hid behind a cloud cover, but nothing could shade the dazzle of the breathtaking floral presentation. The honored group watched the ribbon cutting, were seated on stage for the opening ceremony and toured the premises.
Miyazaki Prefecture has a treasure trove to offer the tourist. The Japanese are well aware of the ideal climate, the natural beauty and the historical significance of the area, but few foreigners are. The prefecture, reaching out to attract overseas visitors, embarked on a reconstruction program several years ago to give a better picture of the past, augmenting the attraction of their extensive resort facilities. They hastened to show their visiting dignitaries.
Miyazaki was known as Hyuga(the country facing the sun) until the Meiji Era. The Takachiho peak in the Kirishima mountains was the point where the sun goddess Amaterasu’s grandson Ninigino-mikoto descended to earth. Jimmu, Japan’s first emperor, was born and lived in Hyuga until he was 45 years old when he embarked with his sons and military contingent for Yamato, present-day Nara. Until the end of the Pacific War, these legends were accepted as fact. The shrines in the area are numerous and each has a fascinating history.
Saitobara, the site of ancient burial grounds, has some 329 mounded tombs dating from the Kofun Period(ca300-710). Although a program of excavation was carried out in 1912 and again in 1917 by the Imperial Household Agency, no more have been allowed. Armor, weapons, horse trappings and other cultural artifacts were uncovered. Some are contained in a local museum, but the finest examples are now in the Tokyo National Museum and at Kyoto University.
David Anido giving Kyu Jung-hwang a hand before entering a shrine.
What a wealth of information concerning the ancients lies untapped in Saitobara! The locals may be a bit impatient to have other of the ancient burial mounds excavated, but they respect the proprietorial rights of the Imperial Family and they carefully tend the mounds, evidence of their proud heritage. Anair of reverence shrouds these tombs of the legendary figures of Japan. Here is the tomb of Ninigino-mikoto, the grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and in turn the grandfather of Jimmu.
The Udo Imperial Shrine is a gem. Reputed to be the birthplace of Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto, father of Japan’s legendary first emperor Jimmu, the shrine was erected in the time of Empress Suiko(593-628). Modern intervention has eliminated a great number of steps, making it more easily accessible. The brilliant crimson of the torii and of the structure at the cave’s entrance give it a festival air, but the antiquity is awesome.
Valeri and Bill Morgan at the Cactus Garden.
Miyazaki Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Jimmu, is built on the site of Jimmu’s residence. The Miyazaki Shrine festival held in October is the largest in the prefecture. The participants dress in costumes of old.
Besides these reminders of Japan’s ancient history, they have wonderful evidences of the Tokugawa Period castles and samurai towns. The Obi Castle of the Itoh clan, built on a leveled mountain, was originally a nine citadel and building complex. This is the site of the longest armed conflict in Japanese history, an 83-year long was between the Itoh and the Shimazuclans. The Matsunomura, the Obi lord’s residence, was reconstructed about 10 years ago after careful research on every detail. Not in lonely splendor, in the neighborhood are samurai houses,a museum containing many of the heirlooms of the 14 generations of Itoh rule, the Shintokudo, a school for samurai boys, a Merchant Museum displaying the life of Obi merchants and other reminders of a bygone era.
Hal and Kaz Drake with Nobuaki Sakamoto at the Miyazaki Shrine.
In Aya, another part of the prefecture, spanning a precipitous gorge is the world’s highest and longest suspension bridge for walkers. In this land of clear streams abounding with fish and Japan’s largest stand of virgin forest in the Aya castle, a fortress of the Middle Ages. The area is famous for their traditional folk handicraft, textiles, woodcraft and ceramics.
Space limits our description. We’ve not touched upon Aoshima Island with its distinctive rock formation, the intriguing devil’s washboard, and only hinted at the beautiful stretches of beach, the water sports, the safari park, the zoo and dozens of other attractions. And not least among them are the genuinely friendly people and something so basic as wonderfully clean, fresh air!
Amb. Posthumus Meyjes giving a helping hand to his amused guide.
Miyazaki has everything going for it, the full spectrum of ancient, medieval and modern culture within the framework of a great resort area. We’ve only skimmed the surface. Here’s Japan’s answer to the Riviera. Less than two hours from Tokyo by air, about an hours from Osaka or 40 minutes from Fukuoka, a weekend is great for a change of pace, but it only whets the appetite. A longer stay would be ideal.