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Man builds flower garden in hometown field after Fukushima evacuation order lifted

Genkatsu Sugano is seen caring for dahlias in his flower garden in the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, on Aug. 30, 2018. (Mainichi)

KAWAMATA, Fukushima -- A 71-year-old man has created a garden in a field in his hometown here following the lifting of the evacuation order for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, filling the area with colorful flowers.

Genkatsu Sugano, a resident of the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, takes care of white and pink dahlias and other flowers in one hectare of land rented from a friend. "While there are some flowers in bloom, others are not ready yet. I want the garden to be filled with flowers," Sugano said with a smile.

On March 11, 2011, when the disaster struck, Sugano, who made a living as a poultry farmer, was suddenly hit by a strong quake near his house. While he and his family were not injured and his house was not damaged, they evacuated to a temporary housing facility in the same town.

When Sugano and his wife visited a flower garden in the town of Kawanishi, Yamagata Prefecture, in October, 2016, he was fascinated by the beautiful flowers in full bloom everywhere. The visit motivated him to grow flowers in his hometown.

In March 2017, when the evacuation order was lifted, Sugano finally returned home after a lengthy absence. He joined a November 2017 gathering for evacuees living near the Yamakiya district and met Koichi Ohashi, 77, a resident of the city of Iwaki in the same prefecture.

Ohashi used to live in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, and grew red spider lilies at the side of a road near his home and enjoyed watching the scenery covered with red flowers in autumn. However, Ohashi was forced to move from area to area after the disaster and has lived in Iwaki since 2012. While he gave up returning to his hometown, he has been worried about his red spider lilies.

When Sugano talked about the idea that he wants to make a flower garden in the district, Ohashi asked Sugano, "Could you plant my red spider lilies in your garden?"

Sugano planted some 3,000 red spider lily plants that he received from Ohashi and 5,000 daffodil and 800 dahlia plants.

"I want to cover my devastated hometown with flowers," Sugano added.

(Japanese original by Toshiya Nakamura, Akita Bureau)

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