August 6, 2014

Cycling to the Windmil

One of the handful of defining characteristics of Sakura (the other being the National Museum of Japanese History) is this windmill, which is visible when you take the Keisei Line to Sakura Station. It is about a forty-minute walk from Keisei Sakura Station, but you can rent bikes close to the station.

It was built 20 years ago as a symbol of Sakura's historically strong ties to Holland, dating back to the Edo era.

In a town with a fiercely aging population, the windmill serves as a rallying point for the community. The area is famous for the flowers planted by schoolkids from neighboring districts: tulips for spring, sunflowers for summer, cosmos for fall.

About seven years ago, the area surrounding the windmill, Inba Marsh, underwent a fairly major reshaping. Rivers leading to the marsh were filled up, and the bike paths leading to it were paved. While it was fairly controversial at the time, it also seems to have led to new constructions such as this: directly across the windmill is a market filled exclusively with locally-grown produce.

There is also locally-grown rice. In fact, the land immediately surrounding the windmill is all rice fields.

Another community project: the small patches of garden rented out to different groups. One had a blackberry bush, which I duly plucked fruit from.

Some of the cosmos were already in bloom when I visited in late July, but they're meant for fall.

More crawfish than I'd ever seen, fighting each other on the edge of a rice field. I was reminded of how much kids like catching them. 

The Keisei train, snaking past.

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