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    36 local children gather to preserve the white-flowered dandelion, a tradition passed down since the Edo period

    36 local children gather to preserve the white-flowered dandelion, a tradition passed down since the Edo period

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    On May 3rd, the white-flowered dandelion conservation group "Rethinking White Flowers" held a workshop called "Planting White Dandelions" at the Apple Multipurpose Hall (Itanayanagi Town).

    The white-flowered dandelion is a native Japanese species with white flowers that grows wild in many parts of western Japan. On the grounds of the Kitabatake family's former residence within the ruins of Furutate Castle in Tatenokoshi, Itayanagi Town, a white-flowered dandelion that is said to have been brought there as a medicinal herb by the Edo period botanist and travel writer Sugae Masumi has been taking root for over 200 years.

    Kiyomi Kitabatake, representative of "Rethinking White Flowers" and a descendant of a branch of the Kitabatake family, planned the workshop for the first time, saying, "I want today's elementary and junior high school students in Itayanagi Town to learn about the white-flowered dandelion."

    According to Kitabatake, white-flowered dandelions, which prefer warm climates, have difficulty surviving in eastern Japan without human intervention. The number of plants at the Kitabatake Old House has decreased year by year, down to just one. Wanting to protect the history of living alongside Itayanagi, Kitabatake and others launched the White-flowered Dandelion Conservation Project in 2021. In collaboration with Professor Katsukawa Kenzo of the Hirosaki University Faculty of Education, they conducted numerous site visits and research, and succeeded in increasing the number of plants. They will continue to conduct research so that they can continue to increase the number of plants.

    The workshop was attended by 36 elementary and junior high school students from the town and their parents. The day was divided into two parts. In the first part, Kitabatake showed a slideshow of his own illustrations while explaining the history of the white-flowered dandelion, and in the second part, they actually planted white-flowered dandelions in a flower bed outside the venue.

    One elementary school student who participated said, "There are white-flowered dandelions in other areas, but I thought it was amazing that they have survived in Itayanagi for so long." Another elementary school student said enthusiastically, "I heard that there is only one plant left now, so I thought we need to protect it. I would like to participate again if there is another opportunity like this."

    Kitahata concluded by saying, "I would be happy if this workshop serves as an opportunity for people to learn about the white-flowered dandelion. I would like to continue my conservation activities in the future."

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