Spring in Unzen
The Miyama Kirishima
Spring in Unzen.
The Miyama Kirishima, a high-altitude plant unique to the Kyushu mountains, begins to bloom around late April in the vicinity of the Jigoku-dani valley and gradually moves to higher elevations. The Ike-no-Hara (near the golf course and designated as a natural monument of Japan) and the Hōbara Plateau are in full bloom around May 10-13, while the Nitta Pass is in full bloom from mid to late May. Finally, the peak viewing time for Miyama Kirishima at the Kunimi-dake mountain is around late May.
The Miyama Kirishima is a plant species that can be found in clusters at Kyushu's high-altitude regions, such as Unzen, Aso, Kuju, and Kirishima, at an elevation of about 700 meters or higher. Its leaves and flowers are small and similar to those of the Yamatsutsuji, and it grows only to a height of about 1 meter.
As the surrounding trees, such as the Akamatsu pine, grow taller and create more shade, the branches of Miyama Kirishima tend to stretch and wither, making them vulnerable to damage. To prevent this, local volunteers (such as the Unzen Beautification Association) and the Nagasaki Prefecture conduct annual clearing activities.
The Miyama Kirishima has been protected with great care by the Shimabara Clan since the Edo period, adding to its rich history.