• Kyodo

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A flower show on Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, due to close today after a 184-day run, has drawn crowds far above the projected 5 million, a sunny reflection on Japan’s “back to nature” gardening boom.

Organizers of “Japan Flora 2000” said 6.85 million people have visited the exhibition grounds, built on a moon-like landscape caused by the excavation and shipment of gravel and sand for the Kansai International Airport land-fill project.

The lack of rail access and the expected impact of the weather on a mainly outdoor event led organizers to anticipate at most 48,000 visitors a day.

Large tour buses, however, made up for the slack and brought an average of 37,000 people a day to see the show. On busy days, the parking lot — designed to hold 300 buses — was jam-packed with up to 1,300 buses.

The light rainy season had little negative impact on the show, and organizers brought in marsh-reed screens to create the sensation of a cool wind to counteract the heat of the days that followed.

An insurance policy was contracted to guard against accidents resulting from strong typhoon winds, but no incidents occurred.

“People heard about the exhibit by word of mouth and were drawn by the restful sensations they felt upon being reminded of when the hillsides were covered with greenery,” said Noriyuki Obata, head of the organizing committee.

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