Japan is a country blessed with four distinct seasons and there is a widespread belief that the Japanese have an inherent affinity upon each seasonal transition. Flowers are a good example that reflects each of those four seasons and fittingly due to the fact that flower viewing is a very popular activity in Japan as most prominently seen in the annual festivities surrounding the cherry blossoms, but not necessarily limited to just them. There are many places in Japan where various species of flowers can be appreciated at different times of the year. Flower parks and botanical gardens are usually great locations for flower viewing. Some temples and shrines may also be famous for particular flowers. Below are a few places Ive visited during the month of April and May which are popular for flower viewing. The onset gives us a new feel and brings us more closer to nature than ever.
Hitachi Seaside Park – Ibaraki
This large public park covering an area of 190 hectares in the city of Hitachinaka boasts a wide variety of seasonal flower gardens throughout the year. In spring, you are met with 4.5 million translucent-petaled baby blue flowers, called nemophilas that blooms all over the park. The hill covered with blue flowers together with the matching pale blue sky is a mesmerising sight, as if you’re standing in the middle of powdery blue goodness. Its no surprise the park recorded its highest ever 1 day attendance this year of more than 71000 people!
Ashigaka Park – Tochigi
This enchanting Park in the town of Tomita is home to hundreds of these spell-binding trees called wisteria, ranging from shrubs, draped wisteria, to 260-foot-long tunnels in its 10,000 square foot vine grove and are said to be the most beautiful wisterias in the world. One of the largest wisterias, known as a ‘Fugi Tree’ in Japan, has been growing for more than 100-years and forms a living umbrella of leaves over visitors making it hard to take your eyes off it when you’re standing in this fairy-tale environment. The hanging wisteria is so thick in some parts of the Japanese park it is impossible to see through it. These vines normally grow along walls but with pruning and the use of special poles to hold up the branches, they can be manipulated into tree shapes. To be able to see the growing beauty of the wisterias is truly an experience.
Echigo Hillside Park – Niigata
Tulips has bewitched the people of Japan since their introduction at the beginning of the 20th century and has been produced mainly in Niigata and Toyama where sixty-seven million bulbs are produced annually. The Echigo Hillside Park near the city of Nagaoka is a wonderful experience for people of all ages. By the time the spring season is in full swing, the “Flower Hill” is swathed in red, pink, purple, orange and yellow blooms, a sight that truly looks like something out of The Wizard of Oz. I personally like tulips because they are a more uniquely shaped flower, and their striking colors of the flowering bulbs is a overwhelmingly beautiful sight to see, with each color of the tulip having a positive symbolic meaning behind it.
Fuji Shibazakura(Moss Phlox) Festival – Mt Fuji
The Fuji Moss Phlox Festival is a special spring attraction of Mt. Fuji with some 800,000 shibazakura (moss phlox or moss pink) plants with five petals similar to those of a cherry blossom, spreading over the natural expanse of the mountain. It is one of the largest collections of shibazakura in the Kanto region. With Mt. Fuji at the distance together with the surrounding forest, the blue skies and the pink of the shibazakura creates a colorful contrast that makes for a great photo opportunity. Unfortunately for me the shibazakura were just a week before full bloom during my visit!
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Inspirational, uplifting, educational or simply gorgeous visiting these flower parks should not be missed!
Please note that a particular flower species might blossom at differing times across regions with varying climate each year. It is recommended to check the location of the flower let it be Park, gardens or temples website if available to keep track of the best viewing time.
JR East Pass
The JR East Pass is an economical and flexible ticket for travel in eastern Japan. Unlimited travel is possible on all lines of JR East, including the Shinkansen, on five days of your choice within a 14-day period from the date when your pass is issued. It is also valid on the N’EX service which provides direct access to Tokyo from Narita Airport. The JR East Pass can be purchased at designated JR East Travel Service Centers, among other locations. This Pass is the biggest recommendation to purchase for any tourist planning a visit to East Japan. This pass is, of course, available all year round.