Over 7,000 people visit this beautiful phlox moss garden in Shintomi Town, Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture on any given day in the months of March and April, drawn both by the beauty of this scented purple carpet and the touching story behind its very existence. The story of this popular tourist spot can be traced back to 1956, when Mr. and Mrs. Kuroki, a newlywed couple, purchased a plot of land in Shintomi. They built a house and a dairy farm on it and worked hard for several years, tending to a herd of 60 cows. They hoped to take a trip around Japan when they eventually retired, but things didn’t quite turn out as they had planned.
At age 52, after 30 years of marriage, Mrs. Kuroki developed an eye condition and went blind a week later. Devastated at the prospect of living with a disability, the poor woman grew depressed and shut herself from the world, choosing a life of seclusion. Mr. Kuroki was saddened to see his normally cheerful wife in so much pain. Because she couldn’t travel across Japan as they had always planned, he wanted to find a way to bring the whole of Japan to her.
Inspiration struck when he was standing in his garden one day, and he glanced at the pink shibazakura (moss phlox), a highly fragrant flower. He realized that this flower was perfect for his wife, because it could be experienced both through sight and smell. And if he filled his garden with enough flowers, he figured that people might come to see them every day, so his wife would always have visitors.
So Mr. Kuroki spent the next two years laying the foundation for the new shibazakura garden. He chopped down all his trees, closed the dairy farm and used every bit of land he could spare to plant more flowers. Within a few years, their house was surrounded by a sea of bright pink blooms that, just as Mr. Kuroki predicted, attracted visitors from far and wide.