Vol.141 Ueno Ryokufu-en & Yasuda Yoran-en: Tokushima Prefecture Cut Flower Cymbidium

Hello everyone! This time we have new blood joining the local trivia exploration team! This is the first coverage and writing by our new member. We’ll do our best to convey the charm of the producers, so please continue to support us!


This time, we are locating to the Tokushima Prefecture, where the famous Awa Odori statue had completely transformed into a Christmas theme.



We visited Tokushima Prefecture for Cymbidium coverage back in April 2023. To read the previous article from Tokushima Prefecture, find link. Link (Japanese only)

The purpose of this visit is again Cymbidium. This is the second installment of the Tokushima Prefecture Cymbidium coverage. December happens to be the peak season for Cymbidium supplements.


[Chart of Cymbidium production amount in Ota Floriculture in 2022. X-axis: month; Y-axis: ten thousand of Cymbidium] 


Moreover, not only in spring but during this period when the supplement volume is at its maximum, Tokushima Prefecture is also the No.1 in domestic supplement share!


[Chart of Cymbidium production amount from various prefectures in Ota Floriculture in December 2022. X-axis: prefectures; Y-axis: ten thousand of Cymbidium] 

[Prefectures: Tokushima/ Gunma/ Kouchi/ Tochigi/ Nagano]


According to Hirakawa, the sales representative at Ota Floriculture, “Among all Cymbidium traded at Ota Floriculture, products from Tokushima Prefecture have top-class quality, which has been established as a brand.” According to Kiuchi, the former sales representative at Ota Floriculture, “The quality is undoubtedly good the moment you see it. The vigour of the plant, the shine of the leaves, and the stretched-out flowers show the healthiness!”


This is not only about the quantity of supplement; there must be secrets to producing high-quality flowers.


So, in order to explore the secrets of the high-quality Cymbidium in Tokushima Prefecture, we interviewed two producers.


1st Stop: Ueno Ryokufu-en (Ueno Green Breeze Garden)

Approximately 50 minutes by car from Awa Odori Airport, located in the clean air of Kamiyama town, Myozai county, surrounded by mountains and the Akui River, is “Ueno Ryokufu-en.”



The Akui River flows near Mr. Ueno’s farm.



Mr. Masahiro Ueno, the representative director of Ueno Ryokufu-en, celebrated his 60th birthday this year.



■ Basic Information: Ueno Ryokufu-en

Products: Cymbidium (cut flowers)

Cultivated Area: Approximately 4,000 m2, about 20 greenhouses

Labor Force: Mr. Ueno, one employee, and one part-time employee, totaling three people


Mr. Ueno is the third generation of Ueno Ryokufu-en. Around 1958, Mr. Ueno’s grandfather began cultivating flowering plants such as Nandina Domestica, Chamaecyparis Pisifera ver. Filifera, and Juniperus Chinensis. The name “Ueno Ryokufu-en” gives the impression of a refreshing breeze passing through the trees.


They started producing Cymbidium in the time of Mr. Ueno’s father, around 1965. At that time, they also cultivated fruit trees such as Citrus Aurantium and grapes. Mr. Ueno, who took over in 1982, is now in his 38th year, specializing in Cymbidium production.


“I built these greenhouses myself. I leveled the terraced farm where flowering trees and fruit trees used to be.”



As a result, each size of the greenhouses is slightly different.


When we were shown inside the greenhouse, the depth was about 25m from the front to the back. Cymbidium pots were lined up neatly.



Seeing inside the pots, the roots were surprisingly thin and not thick.



Something like white fibers peeked out from between the roots.


What is this (・・)?

“It’s rock wool. We insert a tube into the pot for irrigation, and with rock wool, water spreads easily, and diseases are less likely to occur. It also requires fewer number of frequencies for repotting.”



Rock wool is artificially made fibre from minerals. It has high absorption of nutrients and water, and it excels in air permeability and water retention. It is used in vegetable cultivation such as tomatoes and peppers, as well as in flower cultivation for roses.


In this way, each pot has an irrigation tube inserted, and the frequency of watering is adjusted according to the temperature and atmospheric conditions.



Therefore, by growing in this medium, the absorption of water and nutrients is increased, resulting in thick roots and the nourishment of flowers.


■ Temperature Management is Crucial

The area Mr. Ueno is most concerned about in production is seedling cultivation. With the seedling grown in flasks, “Temperature management is crucial, with around 18°C being the ideal temperature. Excessive exposure to sunlight is not good, so moderate shading is necessary.”



It takes 4 to 5 years for Cymbidium to bloom from ordering the seedlings. During this time, they are carefully nurtured while managing the temperature, humidity, and water. For example, in Mr. Ueno’s farm, heating is applied during the day at 25°C and at night at 15°C in winter.



By circulating the heated air throughout the greenhouse, flowering is promoted.


However, temperature management poses a major challenge for Mr. Ueno. “Using heating like this for Cymbidium production leads to significant expenses in fuel costs. The fuel cost is about 3 to 4 times higher per liter than before, and electricity costs have also increased.”



Furthermore, what currently concerns Mr. Ueno the most is the shortage of labor. Managing 4,000 m2 with only three people is extremely challenging. 4,000 m2 is equivalent to approximately 25 volleyball courts. In other words, each person is responsible for managing an area larger than 8 volleyball courts.



Still, because of the highest demand of the year in December, Mr. Ueno and the other producers do their best to lift the plants to higher elevations in summer to encourage flowering. Lifting is a cultivation method where the cultivation site is moved to a higher and cooler place only during the hot period of summer. In Mr. Ueno’s case, they transport the pots to the mountains for three weeks using a 2-ton truck.



Once autumn comes, they bring down all the pots from the mountain, and in winter, they manage to bloom by applying heating.



The pipe-like structure attached to the ground inside the greenhouse is a lane for inserting carts. When lifting the pots up, it’s quite challenging to carry each of them outside the greenhouse, so the pots were loaded onto a trolley and transported out.

“It’s quite tough to continue the labor-intensive production with just three people.”



Fertilizing each pot one by one, inserting irrigation tubes, training the stems to grow straight, flower harvesting, sorting, packaging, and shipping – all these tasks are handled by just three individuals.

“Doing so much work with only three people is quite a challenge.” said Mr. Ueno.


■Creating because it’s Beautiful

Mr. Ueno’s synonymous variety is the “Snowflake”, a prize-winning variety, Flower of the Year OTA 2013 °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°



The magnificent flower arrangement with large, three-dimensional blooms and sturdy stems is truly impressive!

Why did you start cultivating Snowflakes?

“Because I found it beautiful.”


Thirty-three years ago, Mr. Ueno visited a well-known orchid farm in New Zealand with fellow enthusiasts. The owner of the farm decided to retire, so Mr. Ueno took over around 1,000 to 2,000 plants of about 10 different varieties. One of them is Snowflake.


However, Snowflake is quite delicate, and new flower buds are not easily formed.


According to the difficulties in cultivating Snowflakes, people barely produce this variety in Tokushima. Despite this, Mr. Ueno continues to cultivate them, precisely to meet the demand of customers who say, “We want them!”



When Mr. Ueno started production, he was deeply moved by the beautiful colors of orchids. All the varieties currently being produced reflect Mr. Ueno’s preferences.  The flowers confidently crafted by Mr. Ueno are truly beautiful. They are praised for being “large and well-made,” especially by customers involved in bridal and funeral work. Mr. Ueno’s orchids, cultivated with care through proper nutrition, water absorption, and temperature management, are truly exceptional.


Variety: Snowflake


Variety: Culpaulin Ice


Variety: Wedding


Variety: Chelsea


Variety: Deep Impact




Now, let’s move on to the second location, “Yasuda Orchid Garden,” about 50 minutes by car from Mr. Ueno’s Kamiyama town in Anan City, Nagakawa town.


Representative of Yasuda Orchid Garden, Mr. Hitoshi Yasuda, 59 years old.



Mr. Yasuda’s farm is about 2 meters above sea level, approximately 5 km from the coast.



There are no buildings around the farm, and it’s an exposed location where the wind blows vigorously throughout the year, making it extremely dry no matter summer or winter.



However, on the other hand, the sunlight is abundant, and the amount of sunlight is exceptional.



While visiting for an interview in spring, a fellow orchid producer’s farm was about 10 km from Mr. Uzushio Orchid Garden, but the cultivation environment was completely different.


■Basic Information: Yasuda Orchid Garden

Product: Cymbidium Orchids (cut flowers)

Production Area: Approximately 4,500 m2 (about 28 volleyball courts), and a greenhouse of roughly 1,500 m2 in the mountain for elevation.

Shipping Quantity: Approximately 60,000 stems (about 30,000 stems shipped out within the year)

Labor: 3 people including Mr. Yasuda, Mr. Yasuda’s wife, Mr. Yasuda’s sister, additionally around 4 part-time workers during the busy season.


Mr. Yasuda had been working in sales at a major company in Tokyo for many years.


“I enjoy taking on new challenges,” said Mr. Yasuda, “It is a good opportunity while not many people get the chance to start cultivation in an environment where their parents already have a greenhouse.” Making a fresh start at the age of 45, taking advantage of the well-equipped environment, he continued the production of Cymbidium orchids despite his parents’ objections.


When he started production, Mr. Yasuda and his wife visited many Cymbidiums orchid farms in the prefecture and received guidance on techniques and information from seniors who had been cultivating for two to three decades.


“The Awa Orchid Youth Club members generously taught us many things. They accepted someone with absolutely no experience at the age of 45 which is very kind.”



The “Awa Orchid Youth Club” is a group of producers who work across the boundaries of individual and group supplements to enhance the brand power of cymbidium orchids. They hold regular meetings once a month for information exchange, arrange cultivation technique lectures with invited speakers, and actively participate in exhibitions.


The producers in Tokushima Prefecture are warm and supportive companions. As previously introduced, Mr. Ueno is also a member of the Awa Orchid Youth Club and is actively involved in activities.


■Yasuda’s Approach is to Try

Mrs. Yasuda: “I thought we were cursed when we started production…”


C… cursed? What happened??



According to Mrs. Yasuda, the greenhouse consecutively collapsed from the first two years. To make matters worse, it was just before the crucial year-end supplements. The flowers were damaged, and almost none could be shipped out. The extent of the shock is immeasurable.


It was indeed a significant damage. However, the impact of the wind from this cyclone precisely illustrates the characteristics of Mr. Yasuda’s farm. Mr. Yasuda’s farm is near the sea, located in the middle of the plain. It receives excellent sunlight even during the winter solstice until nearly 4:30 PM. While this allows the flowers to undergo sufficient photosynthesis and grow large, there is nothing to block the wind, resulting in strong winds affecting the farm.



“We also experienced flooding. The water reached this part of the greenhouse. There were about 1-meter-long carp and catfish swimming inside the greenhouse.” said Mrs. Yasuda with a grin on her face.



However, Mr. Yasuda did not give up. “We not only rebuild the greenhouse but also build an additional one, making it from 4 to 5 greenhouses. Because of the damage, I was able to learn the structure of the greenhouse, electrical work, and plumbing in just one year.”



“During the flood, about a third of the pots had to be replaced. Therefore, we decided to update various varieties.”



Without a moment of despair, it was apparent that he possessed a considerable amount of mental strength to take on new challenges.


But how were the updated varieties selected?


“Through information exchange with the Youth Club and the market. For example, it seems that large white blooms sell well at the end of the year, but few people are still cultivating them. So, we took a shot at it. There are varieties that bloom within the year without needing to be moved uphill, so we gave them a try too. Of course, there are also many varieties that end up in storage.”



Based on information obtained through communication, Mr. Yasuda’s approach is to try things out first.


Here are some of the varieties he cultivates.


Variety Name: Winter Sonata

Mr. Yasuda’s flagship product. A large-blooming variety in high demand at the end of the year. During the interview, the buds still had a creamy hue.


After fully blooming for 2-3 days, it becomes completely white.



Variety Name: Autumn – a variety that blooms within the year without needing to be moved uphill.


Variety Name: Queen


Variety Name: Tart


Variety Name: Aiko Sama


Variety Name: Dancer


■ Moderate humidity, ample watering, and generous fertilization

When taking photos inside the greenhouse, the camera lens has fogged up.



“Our farm has higher humidity.”


Is it okay to have higher humidity?


“Don’t worry. It’s perfectly fine!”



Now let’s recall the distinctive features of Mr. Yasuda’s farm. It’s situated in a location with excellent sunlight and where the wind blows vigorously. In other words, unlike the farms of other producers, it is in an extremely prone-to-drying environment. To protect the flowers from drying out, it’s crucial not only to water them but also to properly humidify the greenhouse.


“So, there’s a waterway inside the greenhouse.”


A waterway? Where exactly?


“It’s right underneath here.”



Oh, indeed! When crouching and looking under the shelf of pots, there’s a stream of water flowing through.


“There are also crayfish in it.” they said.



The novating appearance of an internal waterway and fish might be the first time in the long history of exploring Mr. Yasuda’s greenhouse! Is it something related to biotope?



When heating the greenhouse, the water in the waterway evaporates. The plants prevent dryness by absorbing water in the warm air filled with water vapor. It’s similar to providing moisture to dry skin in winter with mist.


How Mr. Yasuda fertilizes is also unique.


“When I want the flowers to grow larger, I fertilize more. While doing it just before they bloom, the flowers will grow bigger. Due to the abundant sunlight, balance is held by providing a bit more water, fertilizer, and humidity. That’s our characteristic.”


The timing of fertilizer application, amount of water, and humidity regulation vary from producer to producer. Mr. Yasuda manages them appropriately to suit the greenhouse environment.


Desire of Creating Large Flowers


Looking at the bulbs of the Cymbidium (a part of the stem at the base of the plant that is round, large, and swollen, serving to store water and nutrients), some have turned into brown or grayish color.


“This is the bulb that bloomed last year. After the flower finishes blooming, the leaves will be cut. If we keep them, they will wither because they can no longer perform photosynthesis.”



Cymbidium plants can last for more than a decade, with new flower buds and leaf buds emerging every year. Usually, old bulbs are said to send nutrients to the new bulbs, so we leave them until the new bulbs grow sufficiently. However, Mr. Yasuda intentionally cuts the leaves of the old bulbs while the new bulbs are still growing.


Why does the leaf cutting begin so early? Wouldn’t cutting them so soon prevent photosynthesis and hinder the supply of nutrients to the new bulbs?


“Cutting the leaves of the old bulbs early is to ensure that the leaves of the new bulbs receive sufficient light for photosynthesis. If the old leaves were left, isn’t it possible that the light would be blocked and affects the new leaves? Besides, it’s challenging to care for and maintain when there are many leaves.”



“As long as the bulb is alive, the roots are alive too. If there are old roots, there won’t be space for the new bulb’s roots to grow. By withering the old ones, there will be spaces to allow the new roots to extend.”



Furthermore, “By cutting the leaves, we created space around the pots, and we could increase the number of pots.”


By cutting the leaves of the old bulbs early, there are many benefits to this approach as following:

– Photosynthesis concentrates on the leaves of the new bulbs, which makes flower buds and leaf buds grow well.

– The roots of the new bulbs spread well to absorb water and nutrients.

– With fewer leaves, tasks like stem attraction become easier.

– The number of pots that can be placed on the farm increases.



Certainly, stems that have undergone plenty of photosynthesis and absorbed nutrients are sturdy.


But what if cutting the old leaves early doesn’t result in new flowers… Wouldn’t there be concerns?


“To be honest, I didn’t think too much… what I thought was just do it if I have any doubts on something. That’s my approach.”


If in doubt, try it. That’s Mr. Yasuda’s style.


The method of early leaf cutting is not found in any book. In the beginning, other producers found it difficult to accept an approach they had never seen before. However, seeing Mr. Yasuda successfulness, more producers started to believe the method and gradually adopting it.


By thoroughly carrying out photosynthesis for each stem, providing sufficient fertilizer and water, and properly humidifying, they create magnificent large flowers concentrated with nutrients.



“When I first visited a colleague’s greenhouse at the beginning of my production, I was captivated by the luxurious Cymbidium with large flowers.”


■ Dyed Cymbidium Orchids

There is a recent focus within the Awa Orchid Youth Club, where Mr. Yasuda and Mr. Ueno belong, on a particular initiative by enthusiasts known as the “Dye Dye Club.” The initiative involves something quite literal – “Dyed Cymbidium Orchids.”



The blues and light aquas are especially beautiful. The colourful images here capture an exhibition held at an event organized by a company in Tokushima Prefecture in 2023’s spring.


Cymbidium orchids typically take about 4-5 years from ordering the seedlings to blooming. Predicting demand 4-5 years ahead is challenging, and colors that are popular for short periods during events like Halloween or Christmas pose a challenge for producers. Hence, the “Dye Dye Club” was launched to actively engage in dyeing, allowing for the expression of colours that align with trends and events.


Here is the “Dyed Deep Rouge,” a variety of Cymbidium dyed in red.



The “Dyed Deep Orange,” featuring the Autumn variety.



By using the red-pink Autumn variety, they successfully capture the trendy muted nuance colors.


To avoid confusion for customers who might not know the names when placing orders, the catalogue arrangement with unified names for the dyed Cymbidium orchids is in consideration.


Mr. Yasuda, speaking with a grin, says, “Since varieties take dye differently in-between, there’s still a lot we haven’t tried. I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues, so I want to be able to discuss techniques and management on an equal footing. I want to provide my feedback for return of favor.”




[Philosophies of Mr. Ueno Ryokufu-en and Mr. Yasuda Yoran-en]


– Never forget one’s initial intentions. People should pursue the target(flower) they aim for.

Maintaining the excitement and feelings when they first saw Cymbidium orchids, they put effort into each pot, producing Cymbidium orchids that are close to the ideal forms.


– Value exchanges and interactions with fellow enthusiasts.

Through information exchange with colleagues and the market, people enhance cultivation techniques. It is the passionate desire people felt to go beyond individual and group boundaries and contribute to the flourishing production of Cymbidium orchids in Tokushima Prefecture.


– Just do it!

Cymbidium orchids bloom only once a year. Therefore, if in doubt, it’s best to take on challenges without hesitation. “Failure is the mother of success (high quality).”


It’s evident that Mr. Ueno and Mr. Yasuda are well acquainted with each other’s farms and regularly exchange ideas. The exchange of information among colleagues seems to be a strength for the quality and production volume of Tokushima Prefecture’s Cymbidium orchids. Please consider using Tokushima Prefecture’s Cymbidium orchids for Christmas and New Year celebrations.




Production: Ota Floriculture Research Institute Ltd.

Translation: Ms. Shang Kuan; Edit: Mr. Kato



Responsibility for the text and photos: Kuramitsurika@Ota Flower Life Research Institute

*Photos from the dyed orchid exhibition were provided by Mr. Yasuda Yoran-en.

Flower of the Year OTA 2023 Announcement

The largest flower wholesale company in Japan (referred to the data from the Japanese Flower Auction Association, ranking first in nationwide annual handling), Ota Floriculture Auction Co., Ltd., has selected the following four items as Flower of the Year OTA 2023 from approximately 200k items traded in Japan’s market, including imported products. This reflects two aspects of the industry trend —- the personal demand for gifts and home use rooted during the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovering trend of business demand (events, funerals, weddings, etc.) while post-COVID begins. 


Moreover, muted colours and magenta, which have recently become a hit in fashion, are also highlighted as popular trends in the flower industry. In addition to the sense of transparency, seasonality and a dry texture, the award-winning varieties in this case meet each of these criteria, capturing demand effectively. 




[Grand Prize] Hydrangea “Autumn Colour MinazukiJA Tonenumata (region: Katasina Village, Gunma Prefecture)  


The white Minazuki flowers in the initial blooming stage gradually change from green to antique (muted pink), and eventually to a rich magenta colour over time. According to Ota Floriculture Auction Co., Ltd., the distribution share of JA Tonenumata accounts for over 70% of the Autumn Colour Minazuki. The pyramid-shaped cone flower cluster, exceeding 40cm in total length, exhibits an overwhelming presence as it turns magenta. Such attributes attract many designers and flower shops therefore it is valued as a seasonally featured product. It has gained high praise not only as a valuable handy product to the recovering business demand post-COVID but also as a home décor grasping the rising demand. Operating at an elevation of about 700-1,000m without the use of heating in the region, they continue agricultural production in a sustainable way. Despite the declining tendency in Japan’s domestic flower production, there is no doubt that the supply of Minazuki from JA Tonenumata increases every year. 




[Excellence Award] Gloriosa Superba “ZEN” – JA Aichiminami (region: Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture) 


As the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries reported in 2023, Aichi Prefecture boasts the highest flower production value of 532 billion yen, securing the top position nationwide. Tahara City, in particular, is a major flower production area even nationally, with over 100 flower varieties grown. Among them, Gloriosa Superba is represented by the unique variety “ZEN,” cultivated by only one producer. This original variety, smaller than the usual Gloriosa Superba, features shades of orange. While Gloriosa Superba was traditionally used mainly for corporate needs such as venue decorations, “ZEN” has expanded its usage to individual needs, including homes and gifts, thanks to its small orange flowers. When arranged in a vase, “ZEN” stands out with a vibrant display reminiscent of butterflies taking off from the surface of a lake. The balance of flower bloom, coupled with a 3D perception of space, brings vitality to the design. As the first-time awarded kind, the name “ZEN” is derived from Zen philosophy, symbolizing the breeder’s wish to advance alongside the flower and become a globally recognized bloom. 




[Special Award] Matthiola incana (Stock) “Vintage Brown” – JA Amarumemachi (region: Higashitagawa-gun, Yamagata Prefecture)  


According to Tokyo Central Wholesale Market statistics, Yamagata Prefecture holds a share of about 30% in the production of Stock cut flowers, ranking second in the country. While stock flowers are traditionally associated with pastel colours, “Vintage Brown” breaks the impression as an innovative variety. In a year when muted colours and magenta are popular in various fields, this brown stock has been accepted in the market. The wine and cocoa-inspired colour, with its sophisticated charm, is versatile in various scenes such as space decoration, gifts, and home use, distinguishing itself from traditional stocks in terms of its usage. As the first time achieving its award, JA Amarumemachi’s Stocks is originally known for its stable quality. In addition, “Vintage Brown” brings a unique presence that overturns the image of Stock flowers. It has gained attention from many people and secured this award. 




[New Product Encouragement Award] Rubus Branch (berry) “Iroha” – F.U. KAGAWA Co., Ltd. (region: Kitagun, Kagawa Prefecture)  


“Iroha” is an original product of F.U. KAGAWA where nearly 70 varieties of cut flowers and branches are produced, including Clematis, Capsella Bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s* Purse), and Pistachio leaves (as per our count). F.U. KAGAWA has built a unique position in the cut flower production market by cultivating unconventional branches and flowers that other production areas tend to overlook. One of their unique supplements is “Iroha,” classified as a branch in the market. An original selection, “Iroha” has leaves about one size smaller than regular Rubus Branches, with a rounded shape. Highly compatible with other flower materials and in line with the trend of I-lines and C-line forms, it has been well-received in a wide range of scenes, from space decoration to home use, subscription services, and Mother’s Day gifts. Responding accurately to the demands of the constantly evolving branch and leaf market, their development of a product that captures needs precisely leads to this award. 




What is the Flower of the Year OTA? 


Every year, we award the Flower of the Year OTA to varieties that have been highly valued among the flowers distributed at the market and to those who have produced and supplied them to the market. This award, now in its 19th year, is based on statistical analysis of annual transaction data and voting by major buyers, capturing varieties that accurately reflect trends. The evaluation standards not only focus on quality but also evaluate various aspects from the distribution perspective, including ease of purchasing, and trendiness in colour and shape distinguishes this award significantly from traditional contest-style reviews. We convey our gratitude for the usual supply to the awardees, encouraging further supply, and aim to visualize trends, providing this result as reference information for future cultivation. 




Production: Ota Floriculture Research Institute Ltd. 

Translation: Ms. Shang Kuan; Edit: Mr. Kato 

“NHK Hirumae Hot” October 2023 Recommended Flowers  

The flowers introduced on the October edition of “NHK Hirumae Hot” are as follows: Gloriosa Superba (Glory lily), Gossypium arboretum (Cotton Tree), Cupressus sempervirens (Cypress), Helleborus niger (Christmas rose) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon). The items are also featured on the official website of “Hirumae Hot”.


This month’s featured guest is the “brain” in our flower industry, Ms. Ikuko Naito from Ota Flower’s Life Research Institute!


In Japan, and also globally, Gloriosa Superba is so highly acclaimed that it is called the “Unbeatable Contestant.” One of the varieties introduced this time, ‘ZEN,’ received a gold award at the international horticultural exposition in the Netherlands last year, held once every decade. It is a highly praised variety with a beautiful orange colour. It is a bit smaller than the usual Gloriosa Superba.


Gloriosa Superba ZEN (orange) and Royal (red) JA Aichiminami (Aichi, Atsumi)


Cotton is a familiar part of our lives, but in its state attached to branches, it has a very unique shape. Since it is a mallow plant, it blooms with flowers similar to mallow. After the fruit is matured and swells, it bursts, revealing fluffy white or brown cotton. It’s an item that greatly enhances the Christmas atmosphere.


Gossypium ArboretumImporter: Classic Japan Ltd.


Perfect Cypress kinds for Christmas arrangements are Cupressus sempervirens Blue Ice and Himurosugi (scientific name: Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Squarrosa’). They are supplied from Saitama, Shizuoka, Ibaraki, and other places. Blue Ice is characterized by a silvery blue color, a very pleasant scent, and is widely used in Christmas wreaths and arrangements. Even in the cold winter, it retains its leaves, and the evergreen tree feels vibrant.


Cupressus sempervirens Blue Ice, Chamaecyparis pisifera Himurosugi – Saitama Hama Flower Garden 


As the name suggests, “Christmas Rose” exhibits a mystical appearance perfect for Christmas and is supplied from various locations, including Tochigi and Tokyo. The part recognized as flower petals is actually calyx, and that is why you can enjoy its “flower” for a long time. Consequently, the stock of Helloborus niger grows large, and people can enjoy it year after year.


Helleborus niger Christmas Rose – Tochigi Giardino Kawamura


Lastly, we introduced Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon. It is supplied from Chiba, Saitama, and Shizuoka. While about 100 varieties are distributed in the market annually, current attention has been paid to the glamorous double types.


Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon – Chiba Max Flower Mr. Yamazaki, JA Irumano


Here is an arrangement created with the featured flowers this time! It’s a type of wreath to be placed on the table. It looks beautiful from all angles, making it perfect for the Christmas table. How would you like to decorate your Christmas dining table?



Production: Ms. Chiharu Suzuki

Translation: Ms. Shang Kuan; Edit: Mr. Kato

Sanada Flower: Chiba Prefecture, Gomphrena Globosa

“Has Gomphrena globosa ever gained such substantial attention in the Japanese flower market before? Currently, it enjoys considerable popularity.” While perusing the Unchiku Exploration Team’s diary, I stumbled upon a hastily scribbled note I had penned.

Certainly, one might wonder if there has ever been such a conspicuous presence of the Gomphrena globosa at the Ota Market in the past. Yes, it might be but, it’s unlikely that Gomphrena globosa was used extensively in beautiful bouquets designed as trendy items as it is today. It used to be associated with autumn equinox offerings at Buddhist altars when it came to cut flowers, but when did it start being used like this?

First, let’s take a look at some numbers related to Globe Amaranth.

[Gomphrena globosa’s price chart. X-axis: year; Y-axis: millions of Yen]


From 2013 to 2022, the financial performance of trading amounts has increased by 174%. Although the volume in number of Gomphrena globosa handled in Ota Flower Market has remained almost the same (100%). The increase in the monetary value suggests that either the market has grown larger or there has been some change from the traditional market.

While domestic cut flower production has been declining along with what’s been called Japan’s “Lost 30 Years” of the economy, what’s up with this growth? Even in an overall decrease, isn’t this increase phenomenon that seems to ignore the overall trend a bit puzzling?

↓The green bar indicates the domestic cut flower supply (in stems) according to the Ministry of Agriculture, while the pink bar represents the Gomphrena globosa flower received by Ota Kaki.

[Chart of Gomphrena globosa production amount in the global cut flower market. X-axis: year; left Y-axis (pink bar): hundred thousand of Gomphrena globosa, right Y-axis (green bar): millions of Gomphrena globosa]


While the domestic cut flower industry is on the decline, Gomphrena globosa is on the rise.


An audience once came up to me and said,” This is quite an outstanding number. Furthermore!  Gomphrena globosa has won the Flower of the Year OTA 2022 award! Who is the producer?”

It says “Sanada Flower.”

After identifying the producer, I paid a visit to Sanada Flower in September, a key figure potentially responsible for the recent success of Gomphrena globosa.

↓We arrived in Minamiboso City, Chiba. It’s located at the very tip of the Boso Peninsula, on the eastern side and just 1.5km away from the sea.

 [Otakaki (left) and Sanada Flower (right) location]


We took the Aqua Line from Ota Market, and it’s about a 1.5-2-hour drive from there.

This is Mr. Kazuhiro Sanada of Sanada Flower, the third-generation flower producer.

[Mr. Sanada]




◆Basic Information: Sanada Flower◆


– Products: Gomphrena globosa, Antirrhinum majus (all cultivated in greenhouses), currently focusing on globe Amaranth

– Varieties: One variety of Gomphrena globosa (Rose Neon only), five varieties of Antirrhinum majus

– Production Area: 25 greenhouses, approximately 4960 square meters

– Workforce: Mr. Sanada’s family of four, three full-time employees, seasonal temporary staff

– Resemblance: Mr. Kazuhiro Sanada looks like TUBE’s Wataru Maeda, especially when smiling (personal impression, but likely shared by many).

Succeeding through generations as a flower specialist, Mr. Sanada’s father produced Oncidiums, Limonium sinuatum, Brassica rapa, Antirrhinum majus, and more. Mr. Sanada’s Grandfather specialised in producing and selling Calendula officinalis seedlings.

Opening Sanata Seeds’ catalogue, I saw “Sanada Shin-Kuro.” This must be the breed Mr. Sanada’s grandfather made. “Exactly,” said Mr. Sanata. He is quite an enthusiast for horticulture, specifically focusing on breeding thoroughbred plants.

[Sanada Shinkuro]




★Gomphrena globosa


– Origin: Tropical America

– Scientific Name: Gomphrena globosa

– English Name: Globe Amaranth

Globe means “spherical,” and Amaranth comes from the Greek word meaning “unfading.” Derived from “a” (negation) + “maraino” (means “to wither”), which can be translated into “flower that never withers.”

– Note: When we call it a flower, we are actually referring to the colourful bracts. The actual flowers wither quickly, but the bracts that form the flower head remain colourful for a long time. Because of its durability, this kind of flower also has the meaning of “unchanged” in English.



★What Sets Sanada Gomphrena globosa Apart?


Before delving into Mr. Sanada’s insights, let’s highlight several points that make his Gomphrena globosa (referred to as “Sanada Globe”) different from the others:

– High quality and well-bloomed in every flower bud

– Consistent number of flowers on each stem

– Consistent position of flowers

– Moderate flower size for easy use

– Exceptional shelf life

– Sturdy, wire-like stems

– No wilting

– Straight branches

– Easy to use

– Standardized size and appearance across all boxes

(Please let me go on to the next because there are too many advantages…..)

Now, let’s discuss one crucial aspect that truly defines Sanada Gomphrena from the list above —- Sturdy stems. The stems are incredibly strong. They are impressively firm and can be described as steel wire. Of course, I believe a scientific analysis would classify them as plant material, though.

In fact, please take a look at the dried flower version of Mr. Sanada’s Gomphrena globosa.

This is what it looks like without being upside down.

Or rather, there is no need to be turned upside down because of the wire-like stem.

While drying a normal flower, the flower should be turned upside down in order to drain the water out during the process. If not, the flower neck can be bent down due to the softened stem. But in the case of r. Sanada’s Gomphrena globosa, keeping it standing like this, we can notice that it is beautifully dried and still.

Just as the name suggests (in Japanese), the colouring and sturdiness are as if they embody the red colour of Gomphrena globosa for a thousand days.

Because of the speciality, I would like to explore the secret behind this.


[Views of the Gomphrena globosa greenhouse]


Upon visiting the farm, I met a sea of pink Gomphrena globosa under the heat. Despite the extraordinary view, I was drenched in sweat without moving a finger.

“During summer, it can reach up to 45 degrees,” Mr. Sanada mentioned.

“Even when the air flows well enough?” I asked.

He nodded and said, “This summer might have been even hotter.”


Although the heat was scorching, Sanada Gomphrena globosa continued to bloom beautifully. So, what’s the key to their wire-like stems?


“It’s all about cutting off water. We avoid watering them before shipping-out.”

I wondered, “For how long do you withhold it?”

“Three weeks to a month.” Mr. Sanada answered.

I was surprised by the answer, “Like… a whole month without water?”

“Not a single drop. No fertilizer either. Absolutely nothing.” said Mr. Sanada.

Nothing at all? That’s incredible. Still, the cracked ground in the greenhouse due to excessive dryness has proved what Mr. Sanada just said.

I’ve visited many producers’ farms before, but I’ve never seen fields with cracks under such drought. Is it safe to withhold water for so long?

“It’s necessary. If we don’t, the stems that absorb water may turn soft. This makes it difficult to work with and can reduce their life after being harvested. Moreover, by limiting water during cultivation, we can control the growth of side branches, ensuring uniform flower potionings on the stems.”

In order to position the bud tip at the centre of the plant, we need to restrain the lateral branches’ growth, ensuring that all the flowers are at the same height. If the lateral branches extend too much, it results in flower heights and sizes affected, as well as making the stems less sturdy.

“It’s easier to use them for any purposes if the bud tip is at the highest point, as well as if the heights of the other flowers are roughly the same. While managing water in the greenhouse, unlike an open ground, rainwater doesn’t affect it therefore allows better control of irrigation.”

Cutting off water results in uniforming flower heights and leads to large, elegant flower heads. It is clear that we can all see such attributions in Sanada Gomphrena globosa than in conventional Gomphrena globosa.


“It’s better not to let them grow too big. They tend to get larger during this season.”

Wow, is this what Gomphrena globosa is supposed to look like? The impact is truly impressive.



“It’s similar to how tomatoes develop sweetness when restricting water during cultivation. Cutting off water allows Sanada Gomphrena globosa to store nutrients and achieve this appearance.”

Cutting off water leads to uniform flower heights that avoid extra branches and result in wire-like stems and larger flowers.

“Take a look at the leaves below which have already turned yellow.”

“This is the sign of hunger. But we continue withholding water and cutting off fertilisers — giving the plants nothing.”



★Why Sanada Gomphrena globosa?


At any rate, there are still some aspects that we cannot understand. To be honest, the question that has been bothering me is —- why would Mr. Sanada choose to cultivate Sanada Gomphrena globosa instead of big-ticket items like Lisianthus, Helianthus, or spray Chrysanthemums?

“I made this decision because Japan’s summers have been getting hotter each year, and I was seeking flowers that could withstand the heat and dryness. In the first year, I tried growing three varieties, but now I’ve narrowed it down to just Rose Neon. The spray-type Rose Neon looks better and has beautiful colouring compared to the single-stem variety. Therefore Rose Neon has become my choice among all Sanada Gomphrena globosa.”

How astonishing can this be?

It is actually not common at all to engage in farming only a single flower species during the whole season. Producers like Mr. Sanada are quite a rare case. Like, think about it, how popular should the flower be to live from only cultivating one kind of species at a time?!

All of a sudden, Mr. Sanada said, “In the winter, I grew Antirrhinum majus, so I was looking for something to produce in the summer as a side crop.”

Wait, was it always meant to be a side crop? This Sanada Gomphrena globosa…?

“Well, there were already a few places around here producing Gomphrena globosa, so I thought it would be a good fit for a side crop. I was thinking ‘Since some of my neighbours are already growing Gomphrena globosa, why not give it a try?’, therefore I started the project in 2012.”

Even with such an easy reason, the growth in the sales figures of Gomphrena globosa from Mr. Sanada’s farm, which began supplying to Otakaki in 2012 until 2022, is anything but ordinary. The growth of Sanada Flower’s Gomphrena globosa price per year is illustrated in the bar chart below:

[Growth of Sanada Flower’s Gomphrena globosa price per year]


The increase in sales figures is so staggering that it’s hard to believe. It’s a 16,000% increase within a decade, which makes people wonder if the numbers are correct. Yet after double-checking it multiple times, there is no doubt of any inaccuracies. While domestic cut flower production was declining, Sanada Gomphrena globosa was on the rise, and it seems Mr. Sanada played a significant role in this. Sanada Gomphrena globosa is a hit product of the *Reiwa era!

*Reiwa era: The Japanese (imperial) era begins in 2019




“In my opinion, when you’re sticking to creating a particular type of flower, it is often the case that you can’t adapt to time changing. It can be tough if you’re too committed to what you want to create and it doesn’t align with the current trends.

I think some people are okay with that approach. But in my case, I’ve chosen the path of providing what the market needs in a quality that buyers appreciate. In the first place, I don’t particularly love Sanada Gomphrena globosa.”

With such an honest answer, Mr. Sanada also mentioned that his farming philosophy is “it is essential to provide a quality that the market demands and appreciates.”

Indeed not clinging to a specific trend is necessary. When I asked Mr Sanada what he thinks about flower production,

“I don’t particularly love flowers, either.” Well, that’s the second honest answer today.

“At the time, there weren’t many career options. Being the eldest son of a flower-producing farmer in Minamiboso, I vaguely thought it might be my future, and it just happened that way.”

Mr. Sanada’s grandfather started flower production before World War II. At that time, considering flowers as a choice in agricultural production, given the difficulties in domestic food procurement. On top of that, the flower industry was likely unusual, but why did his grandfather choose it?

“Well, Minamiboso City had already been thriving in flower production before that. Flower production had already begun here, so it was quite a normal choice.”

Indeed, Minamiboso City’s emblem is inspired by flowers. If Mr. Sanada is a thoroughbred in flower production, then Minamiboso City must be a sanctuary for flower production.

It seems that flower production and the choice of Sanada Gomphrena globosa were not made with much thought but rather followed the natural flow of time. However, even without a strong attachment to these choices, Mr. Sanada places great effort on the quality and content of his work. Mr. Sanada might have stumbled into flower production, but I believe he would have excelled in any field he chose. His commitment to quality and the neatness of his selection area is one of the best evidence to see the potential.


[The selection area]


Not a speck of dirt is left on the ground of the selection area. The floors and workbenches immaculately shine as if they’ve been waxed. Hygienic conditions also affect the longevity of harvested flowers, and just by seeing this selection area, you can understand the high quality of Sanada Gomphrena globosa.

“I want everything to be clean during the whole process. Customers should receive the same appearance and volume of product every time they open the boxes. That’s how it should be, and that’s what I’m aiming for. Otherwise, you can’t call yourself a professional.”

So we can say that it’s all about the attention to detail, not the specific flower variety.

“The variety doesn’t matter.” Even though Mr. Sanada talks with laughter, his goals are high, and he approaches his work with strict professionalism. This is where you can see Mr. Sanada’s philosophy.



★Reasons Behind Sanada Gomphrena globosa’s Popularity


When we asked him for more details, Mr. Sanada’s greatest concern in Gomphrena globosa production is being “chased by numbers.” In early September, on a certain day during our interview, I had the chance to take a peek at Mr. Sanada’s smartphone screen, which displayed the Olive system (Otakaki Florist’s order processing system). To my surprise, orders were piled up until the final business day of September, the 29th!

Just looking at these numbers can make one gasp from surprise.

Of course, the orders come from wholesalers and florists, but what’s unique about Sanada Gomphrena globosa is the significant presence of supermarkets and big retail chains. When I asked Mr. Watanabe, in charge of ornamental plants at Otakaki, about the reason behind this, he said, “It’s because they stay fresh for a long time. They don’t wilt easily, they don’t gradually become worse in condition, quality, or appearance over time. Not to mention that there’s no trash or bugs, and they remain vibrant for a very long time. Even at places like supermarkets where nearly no one takes care of the flower, it’s still truth worthy that the customers can receive good quality products.”

It all makes sense, doesn’t it? When you see the fields and the flower selection area, it’s easy to understand. No wonder they received the Flower of the Year award from OTA.

They proudly displayed the certificate and trophy at Mr. Sanada’s home.


Their achievement was even featured in the Yomiuri News and made it to the front page of the Bonchi News too.

Mr. Sanada said he’s glad that the flower is selling well and glad that it became a trend. Not really! it became a trend thanks to Mr. Sanada. I asked him about the next item he was focusing on, but I kept his answer a secret for now.



★In Summary


Behind the success of Sanada Gomphrena globosa, a flower that’s considered “absolutely fantastic” in the market, lies the unwavering dedication of Kazuhiro Sanada from Minamiboso. The presence of Sanada Gomphrena globosa, with its quality that surpasses conventional standards, led buyers to adopt it alongside traditional Buddhist use as casual flowers, resulting in nationwide production expansion.

However, for Mr. Sanada, it could have been any flower. Yet, the encounter between Mr. Sanada and Gomphrena globosa led to an unprecedented hit.

This man with a slightly tousled and gentle smile is an incredibly hard worker and a perfectionist who sets new standards as an innovator, all while being entirely natural and kind-hearted.

★Sanada Globe Amaranth Monthly Shipment Chart

[Chart of monthly shipment of Sanada Globe Amaranth in Otakaki for 2022. X-axis: June 2022 to January 2023]



★Mr. Sanada’s Antirrhinum majus

Although Gomphrena globosa has taken the lead in Mr. Sanada’s farming activities, it still accounts for about 40% of the total.

[Chart of monthly production of Snapdragon from Sanada Flower in Otakaki between December 2022 and April 2023]


Double-petal varieties are his favourites!


[Double-Petal Snapdragons]



★Sanada Flower’s Principles


– Cut back on water and nutrients to grow a hungry, steel-like boxer!
What sets Sanada Gomphrena globosa apart is its “wire-like stems.” Let the ground dry out and crack, and cut back on water extensively. Just like a boxer before a match, this method creates a robust plant. And that’s how they win. (*Note: This method depends on Mr. Sanada’s soil conditions in the field.)

– Because times and trends change, it’s essential not to fixate on specific items. This is Mr. Sanada’s philosophy.

Now then, everyone, goodbye and take care.



Author: Ms. Naito Ikuko
Translation: Ms. Shang Kuan; Edit: Mr. Kato

Variety Spotlight: ‘Wedding Plan’ Rose by Inochio Seikouen

Today, we introduce the ‘Wedding Plan’ rose, a white spray rose of exceptional quality by Inochio Seikouen. 

This particular rose is a unique selectively-bred variety similar to from the Eclair rose and has been supplied to us by Nakamura Rose Garden in Yamagata Prefecture. It boasts pure white, large cup-shaped blooms and is distinguished by its uncommon green-centered as a white spray rose.

Nakamura Rose Garden, our esteemed supplier, prioritizes carefulness while choosing flowers, they use hand selection over instead of mechanical sorting to prevent any scratches and damage to the flowers.

Currently, the availability of different sizes range from approximately 50 cm to 30 cm, with an average daily shipment supply volume of around four cases. The ‘Wedding Plan’ rose stands out not only for its filling volume but also for its charming and versatile appearance, making it a harmonious addition to various floral arrangements.

We anticipate continued availability of the ‘Wedding Plan’ rose in the future, and we kindly invite you to consider this exquisite variety for your wedding and special occasions. 

Originally posted by Ms. Hiraga 

Translated by Ms. Shang Kuan