Zama is a city located in central Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, famous for its extensive sunflower fields. Every year in summer the flowers bloom and during this time the annual Sunflower Festival or Himawari Matsuri is organized. From late July through August more than half a million sunflowers are displayed at various locations around Zama.
During the festival, visitors can enjoy music and entertainment, great food and buy farm fresh produce. An array of sunflower products, from Sunflower seeds to Sunflower beer and sunflower pasta are sold at the festival. The plants grow pretty tall - over 5 feet. A raised platform is built at the edge of the field enabling visitors to take elevated pictures of the entire sunflower field.
The sunflower, which is indigenous to America, were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Sunflower leaves aren’t wasted, either, being used for cattle feed and the fibrous stems for paper production. Sunflowers also has a peculiar ability to extract toxic ingredients from soil, such as lead, arsenic and uranium. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, volunteers and campaigners in Japan grew sunflowers to decontaminate the radioactive soil. A similar campaign was mounted in response to the Chernobyl disaster in Russia.
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