Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Orchids, Orchids and More Orchids

A few weeks ago my friend messaged me and asked if I liked orchids and was interested in going to the orchid festival in Tokyo.  I pondered the first question for a few moments - do I like orchids?  I definitely enjoy flowers but I never really thought of myself as an orchid lover (or of any other flower for that matter), but I suppose that of all the flowers out there, orchids would probably be one of my favorites since it was by far the dominant flower at my wedding (see pictures to the right - hey, any chance I get to reminisce about that day, I'm taking it).  In any case, I am always up for new things and I love going to Tokyo, so I said I would go.  It was supposed to be a group of guys and girls on this outing, but the night before when we were all at dinner, the guys found out that Rich and his friends were going to UFC 144 at the Saitama Super Arena the next day and promptly informed us they were ditching the orchid festival for UFC (guess I can't really blame them). To our delight, it ended up being a girls' day out.

We arrived at Tokyo Dome City around 11:00 a.m. and since none of us had really eaten, we decided to eat before taking on the Orchid Festival.  Tokyo Dome City has it all - Tokyo Dome (home of the Tokyo Giants), an amusement park, a hotel (Tokyo Dome Hotel), a skate arena, a bowling center, a shopping mall, restaurants and the LaQua natural hot spring complex.  We walked around LaQua to check out our dining options - we considered eating at Bubba Gump, but once we saw The City Buffet and the sample selections in the plastic case, we were sold (it was also the best choice price-wise).  The buffet had a salad bar, Chinese and Japanese dishes, pizza (Japanese style), and an ice cream bar. By the time we were done, we were stuffed and sleepy.  Hmm...I think I see a pattern developing (buffet followed by some activity that involves a lot of walking), which is ironic considering that on Edo-Tokyo Museum day, we thought it was ridiculous to pig out at a buffet and then go sightseeing.

The official name of the festival is the Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival and it's an annual event which was started in 1991.  This year the festival was held from February 18 - 26 at the Tokyo Dome.  We really had no idea what to expect but once we entered the arena, we realized that this festival was a lot bigger than we had anticipated.  I'm not sure if it was because it was the last day of the festival, but there were tons of people (mostly older Japanese women, I'm not gonna lie) and by the time we were ready to leave, it was a struggle just to make it to the exit.

The festival had a little bit of everything.  There was an area to view the orchids which had been submitted for display/viewing, an area for the orchid competition (there were different divisions for the different species of orchid), there were massive orchid displays, orchid flower arrangements, orchid gardens and orchid-related crafts on display.  In addition, there were food vendors, a wine garden, and booths where you could buy orchids and other orchid-related products (one of the popular booths seemed to be the Shiseido booth where you could buy orchid perfume).   I had absolutely no idea there were so many different types of orchids or that they came in so many different colors, and I can honestly say that I now have a new appreciation for this flower (I was tempted to buy a plant but then I remembered that I've never been able to grow anything and decided against it).  According to the Daily Yomiuri, this year's festival featured 100,000 plants from over 21 different countries.  There was a special display where you could view a blue orchid from Borneo, but when we saw that the wait time to get in was at least 45 minutes, we agreed that it wasn't really necessary for us to see the blue Borneo orchid.  After we saw everything there was to see, we headed back to Yokosuka and ended our fabulous girls' day with tea and scones at Afternoon Tea. 

Here are some pictures from the festival:


Mom said...

Your Granny would have loved to visit the beautiful orchids!

Shannon said...

Mom, I was actually thinking about Granny when I was there and how she loved orchids!!!