Noto Kirishima azalea fair brightens quake-hit central Japan town

Bright red Noto Kirishima azalea flowers are now on sale in a town on the Noto Peninsula that was hit hard by the New Year's Day earthquake.

The Noto Kirishima azalea is widely grown at houses and temples on the peninsula. Locals have long cherished the variety.

A horticulturists' association in Anamizu Town is promoting the azalea under the brand name of "Noto Gazan Kirishima." Gazan is the name of a Buddhist priest.

About 300 azalea plants in full bloom were on display at a fair that opened in the town on Friday. They were priced from 500 yen, or about three dollars. A 30-year-old azalea plant is one of the most expensive with a price tag of 50,000 yen, or about 320 dollars.

Some of the growers were affected by the powerful quake on January 1. Nakahashi Chiyoko said her azalea farm was damaged. She said she and her fellow growers had thought they would not be able to hold the fair, but they managed to do so. She said she hopes many people will visit.

A visitor said he bought an azalea to help people in the quake-hit area.

The fair runs through Sunday.