Kurume Azalea Chronicle

When in season, blooming plant of a Kurume Azalea become covered in abundance of petite blossoms, ranging in colors of white, red, pink, coral, burgundy, crimson and more, with different shape and style of flowers such as Yae-zaki (multi-layered petals) and Shibori-zaki (tie-dyed patterned petals).

During the Edo period (span during the Tempo period of 1831-1845), Motozo Sakamoto, then a samurai of the Kurume feudal clan, discovered a newly sprouted plant of an azalea growing from a bed of moss which became the inspiration for his innovative method of mixing moss in his seedbed for azalea hybridization.

From there, he successfully hybridized a new cultivar of Azalea using Kirishima Azalea but it was not until the end of Edo period for Motozo Sakamoto to be recognized for his achievements, an astonishing accomplishment.

Meiji period began and Taisho period arrived as many horticultural enthusiasts embraced his work. Approximately 750 cultivars have been confirmed up to now, 300 of which still continues its beauty today.

  • end of Edo-period(1830-60s)
  • end of Tempo-period(1830)
  • Conceptualization of blending moss in seedbeds began by innovator Motozo Sakamoto, allowing him to educate other horticulturalists of his methods while successfully hybridize about 100 new cultivars of azaleas.
    Creator of Hybridized Kurume Azalea Motozo Sakamoto
    Creator of Hybridized Kurume Azalea
    Motozo Sakamoto

  • Meiji-period(1860s-1910s)
  • 36-Meiji(1903)
  • In 1912, Akashi Korakuen enters his azaleas in the Fifth Domestic Industrial Exhibition held in Osaka, earning an unprecedented praise from the public, renaming the cultivar to Kurume Azalea from the already nationally renowned Kurume Kashuri (city’s original textile).
    Promoter of Kurume Azalea Kijiro Akasi
    Promoter of Kurume Azalea
    Kijiro Akasi
  • Taisho-period(1910s-1920s)
  • 7-Taisho(1918)
  • In 1918, American plant explorer Ernest H. Wilson visited the Akashi Korakuen, purchasing 50 cultivars of Kurume Azalea, “ The Wilson 50 ”, to take back to Boston, Massachusetts, ultimately spreading its popularity throughout the world.
  • Showa-period(1920s-1980s)
  • 22-Showa(1947)
  • In 1947, Kurume branch, National Horticultural Experimental Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was established in Mii-machi, Kurume, to further experiment and study the azaleas through collection, preservation and cultivation by the efforts of horticulturalists and scientists, leading to the confirmation of 300 cultivars of Kurume Azaleas
  • 32-Showa(1957)
  • In 1957, Kurume Ueki Festival debuted and was held on Meiji-Dori, currently held at Kurume Hyakunen Park as the annual Kurume Azalea Festival.
  • 38-Showa~(1963~)
  • In 1963, Kurume Azalea Manufacturing Association was established, facilitating greenhouse misting system to produce larger quantities of plants, widely allowing to increase public awareness and product advertisements
  • Heisei-period(1990s-2010s)
  • 1-Heisei(1989)
  • In 1989, International Azalea Festival’89 in Kurume was held at Kurume Hyakunen Park, linking with the celebration of the 100th year anniversary of Kurume City, exhibiting approximately 1,500 cultivars of both domestic and foreign azaleas.

  • 2-Heisei (1990)
  • In 1990, the Kurume-shi World Azalea Center was established. There are two functions in this center: 1) the valuable azaleas collected at the above festival are preserved everlastingly, and 2) nurserymen in Kurume utilize as a production base of greening trees, garden plants, and flowers positively. This center is open to the public and the following azaleas are on display: Kurume Azalea, Satsuki Azalea, Hirado Azalea, wild species of Japanese azalea and foreign cultivars from countries such as U.S., U.K., China, Germany and others.
												Azalea flowers in full bloom
    Belgian Azalea flowers in full bloom
    (glasshouse, latter of March)
												Japanese rock-garden of Azalea
    Japanese rock-garden of Azalea
												400 years-old Kirishima Azalea
    almost 400 years-old Kirishima Azalea
  • 【Original Cultivars】

    -new cultivars bred by Kurume-shi World Azalea Center-

    In 2000, “Benikasuri” became a registered varieties.

    In 2008, “Yumekasuri” became a registered varieties.

    In 2014, “Hanasayori” and “Harunoyume” both acquired its registered trademarks.