By Carmen Grau Vila
Tokyo, Aug 3 (EFE).- Olympians taking the podium at the Tokyo 2020 Games boast medals hanging from their necks, but the normally overlooked floral bouquets they hold aloft represent something even more poignant and powerful than athletic excellence and victory: their petals are symbols of resilience, recovery and reconstruction for the Japanese people.
On March 11 2011, the Tohoku earthquake hit the Japanese peninsula, causing widespread damage and a series of tsunamis that devastated many coastal areas of the country.
But following the aftermath of one of the worst earthquakes in Japan’s history, residents across the affected prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi started planting seeds in the hope of bringing back some of the color their regions had lost.
Flowers began to sprout on the recovered land and today, over a decade later, they adorn the beautiful 5,000 bouquets of the Tokyo Games.
Each of the three flowers in the bouquet have their unique meaning and symbolism.
The sunflower, from Miyagi, represents the sunflowers that were planted on a hill where children lost their lives seeking refuge from the water. The hill is now fully covered in sunflowers in honor of the parents who lost their children.
The eustoma, from Fukushima, honors the farming community in the prefecture that was hit by the tsunami, which also triggered nuclear radiation that killed the local agriculture industry.
The indigo-colored gentians from Iwate were added in memory of the victims of the pandemic with its color resembling the Tokyo Games logo.
Professor Jun Oyane, expert in the impact of disaster on communities, says it is a shame that spectators and participants of the Olympics are not aware of each flower’s symbolism and significance.