If you've been watching the Tokyo Olympics you may have noticed that each of the winning contestants is gifted a bouquet with yellow, green and deep-blue flowers tied with a blue bow.
Although seemingly sweet, these celebratory flowers carry with them a deeper meaning to Japan that's been years in the making.
The flowers come from the three prefectures that were hit by Japan's devastating 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The unfortunate event took 20,000 lives away - all predominantly from these three prefectures: Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate.
Eustomas from Fukushima
Green frilly flowers that almost look like lettuce - the Eustomas flowers in the bouquets are actually flowers grown from Fukushima despite a nuclear disaster that happened shortly after, and as a result of, the 2011 earthquake.
Symbolising life and vitality over destruction, Olympic organizers report a NFP started cultivating Eustomas in Fukushima to help jump-start the economy and help with the recovery effort.
Sunflowers from Miyagi
Sadly, many parents that lost children in during the 2011 earthquake. Those parents have since returned and planted sunflowers on a hill in Miyagi where their children sought shelter during the earthquake.
A beautiful tribute of rememberance, these sunflowers have provide the added benefit of soaking up the nuclear radiation that spread to Fukishima district as well.
Gentians from Iwate
The gentians, a small bright blue flower, are grown in Iwate, a coastal area that was devastated by giant waves in the 2011 disaster.
A very sad tale indeed, but also one of hope and resilience, as I'm sure the Olympic organisers intended by using these flowers as gifts to those winning the Olympic games in the COVID era.