One summer day in early August, I left my mansion at 4am in the morning and cycled to the JR Enmachi station near my place so that I could catch the early local train to the Tango region. I had read from the prefecture newsletter about the sunflower fields in Yosano, a town in the Tango region. If sakura is the flower of spring, then the himawari, as sunflowers are known in Japanese, is the flower to see at the height of summer. Yosano was to be my first destination that day.
Using the economical Seishun 18 ticket which allowed me travel only on the slower local or rapid trains on the JR network, I took a train to the JR Nishimaizuru station, which involved going through two train transfers at JR Sonobe and Ayabe stations respectively. From Nishimaizuru, I then had to transfer to the privately-run KTR or Kitakinki Tango Railway to get to Nodagawa which is the nearest station to Yosano. The JR Seishun 18 ticket could not be used on a private railway train so I bought a one-day train ticket from the KTR station master at 1200 Yen.
The train journey including transfers took me about 3.5 hours for one way. Upon arrival at Nodagawa, I got some directions from the station master on how to get to Yosano, since I couldn't find details online. The kind man told me it was possible to walk there in 30 minutes. I was glad I didn't have to incur additional transport costs.
My leisurely walk probably took me an hour as there were many pretty sights along the way. From the wild flowers along the path to a massive pond of water lotus in bloom to the expanse of rice fields and more, the long walk under the hot summer sky was definitely worth it. It was so peaceful a place that all you could hear were the songs of the insects in your path.
At the Yosano sunflower fields, I was surprised that there were not many people. I had expected there to be many visitors as it was the second last day the fields were opened to the public. The access to the fields probably deterred tourists and those without private transport. How many people would have the time I had to spend 4 or 5 hours traveling just to look at some flowers? But then again, it was not just some flowers. The fields were quite a sight to behold and definitely worth losing sleep and traveling for! I didn't know the flowers could grow so tall!
One observation though was that many flowers were drooping, which meant they were close to withering. The fields were opened to the public for a limited period from 4 to 12 Aug (admission fee of 200 Yen). It would have been better to go in the beginning of the period in order to see all the flowers in their best form. A surprise from the visit though was that visitors were each given a small packet of sunflower seeds as a souvenir so we could grow our own flowers.
After spending a morning at Yosano, it was a long walk back to the station and the sweltering heat didn't make it easier. But with the beautiful images of the sunflowers at the back of my mind, my spirits were high and I walked with purpose towards my next destination.