When his wife lost her sight, a loving husband overwhelms her flowers

Every April, local media and crowds of tourists travel to the Kuroki house in the town of Shintomi, Japan to witness something both beautiful and heart-rending. For more than 20 years, 86-year-old Toshiyuki has maintained an incredible flowering garden on his own. His 76-year-old wife Yasuko greets each visitor with a sweet smile. But many are shocked to hear that Yasuko has never actually seen the bright spectacle in her yard. The reason for this — and the story behind the garden — has touched the hearts of thousands in Japan.

The Kurokis were married in 1956. It was an arranged marriage, but they soon realized that they were meant for each other. Living on their very small farming income was tough, but thanks to Yasuko's cheerful disposition, their home was always full of laughter. After the couple had three children, they changed from growing crops to dairy farming to meet a growing demand for milk products. Dairy farming involves constant labor, starting at 2:00am every day. Cleaning, feeding, and milking the animals needs to be done seven days a week, 365 days a year. The couple managed to do this and raise their children, supporting each other through many exhausting days.

It was only after 30 years of marriage that Toshiyuki and Yasuko finally began to think about winding down their busy farm life and spending more time relaxing and enjoying each others' company. They hoped that they could one day travel across Japan to visit all of the famous sites. It was a dream they had held for a long time, and they'd been putting aside a money every year to realize it. It was Toshiyuki's promise to his wife for supporting him through all the hard years without complaint.

No one expected the tragedy to come.

One day, Yasuko complained that her eyes were blurry and she couldn't see the cows properly. Yoshiyuki immediately took her to the eye doctor, but they couldn't find anything wrong. Then, just one week later, Yasuko went completely blind. Doctors later determined that her blindness was a complication of diabetes. She was only 52 years old and devastated by the news. The once active woman became quiet, and her smile disappeared. The loss of her sight also meant the couple had give up the farm much more suddenly than they had planned. Toshiyuki simply couldn't care for 60 cows on his own. He was heartbroken and blamed himself for working too hard and neglecting his wife's health. Their farm was gone, and their dream of travel was no longer possible.

Toshiyuki tried to keep Yasuko's spirits up, but after coming home from the hospital, she became increasingly depressed and antisocial. She spent more and more time alone in the house. It seemed as if she had lost hope, alone in the darkness. Toshiyuki felt hurt and helpless seeing her in this state.

The first spring after his wife left the hospital, Toshiyuki was looking out the window and wondered why people were gathered in his garden. Then he realized that they were admiring the moss pink flowers he had planted the year before. He had an idea: he would plant even more flowers in his garden.

It took him two years to prepare the soil on the hill behind his home. In summer, he pulled weeds, in the fall, he nourished the soil. He planted individual roots until the pink patches began to spread. He thought, if he couldn't get his wife out of the house, then why not bring people to her? He worked tirelessly to fill his garden.

Over the next decade, word spread about their pink-carpeted garden, and sure enough, more and more people began to visit. Yasuko always stood in the center of the crowd, cheerfully chatting away. She began to smile again.

Today, almost an acre of pink flowers surrounds the Kuroki home. During the blooming season, the garden has 3,000-5,000 visitors every weekend — and this at a private house! Toshiyuki also built walkways, handrails, and benches so his wife feels safe when she goes out for a morning walk. He is still at work every day in his garden. He says the smiles keep him going.

Every single flower is a symbol of Toshiyuki's love for Yasuko. Visitors are often overwhelmed, not only by the flowers, but also by the beautiful love story behind them. Yasuko is a lucky woman to have such a caring husband. If you ever visit Japan in spring, remember to stop at the Kuroyuki home in Shintomi and meet the town's sweetest couple!


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