With the sakura season coming to a close, we say goodbye to the beautiful pale pink petals as the last of them fall to the ground. This doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing left to see. Japan is blessed with gorgeous flower fields that it would be a waste not to check them out. I’ve listed a few must-see flowers and where you can find them below.
Shibazakura (Moss Phlox)
With its name roughly translating to “lawn cherry blossoms,” shibazakura (sometimes spelled shiba-sakura) are often referred to as cousins of the wildly popular cherry blossoms. They are, however, more of pink moss than flowers and they flourish in unabashed hues of purple and pink.
Where to See Shibazakura
Around Tokyo, there are two known spots where one can see shibazakura. Perhaps the most popular is in Yamanashi, where the Fuji Shibazakura Festival is held. On a clear day, you can spot Mt. Fuji in the background. There are also tons of Mt.Fuji-inspired food to enjoy.
A bit closer to Tokyo is Chichibu’s Hitsujiyama Park, which is ideal if you want to combine a picnic with your shibazakura sightseeing trip.
You can also visit Tobu Treasure Garden in Gunma where you can find a lot of flowers blooming along with moss phlox.
When to See Shibazakura
Mid-April to mid-May is best. This year, the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival will be held from April 13th to May 26th.
Getting to the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival can be troublesome without a car. Booking a tour would be a good way to secure transport, and the ones on VELTRA have packed itineraries that combine sightseeing with other activities.
As for Hitsujiyama Park, it’s a bit of a walk from the station but you can book a SEIBU Pass to save on money when coming from Tokyo.
The wisteria tunnels of Japan have been making the social media rounds in the past years and it’s easy to see why. Hanging from above, they make dreamy landscapes that your eyes can feast on. While arguably, the most photographed variety of the flower is purple, they also come in other colors such as yellow and white. They are known locally as fuji.
Where to See Wisteria Tunnels
With its close proximity to Tokyo, Ashikaga Flower Park tends to get crowded, especially on weekends and public holidays. I went last year and frankly couldn’t wait to get out because there were way too many people for the experience to be pleasant. I was looking forward to trying the wisteria-flavored soft-serve ice cream, but that had a long queue too, so I opted not to get myself one.
I unfortunately have not been to Kawachi Wisteria Garden, but it’s among the places I definitely want to check out.
When to See Wisteria Tunnels
The optimal viewing dates for wisteria are mid-April to mid-May.
Wisteria Tunnels Sightseeing Tours
Tours to Ashikaga Flower Park are often coupled with Hitachi Seaside Park. Because wisteria bloom around the same time as nemophila, you can hit two birds with one stone when you get on one of these tours.
As for Kawachi Wisteria Garden, there are only a few tours that come with English support, but you can find them on Japanican or YOKOSO Japan. Tours tend to change every fiscal year so availabilities may vary.
Nemophila (Baby Blue Eyes)
Similar to shibazakura, nemophila sprawl on stretches of land, but instead of pink, their color is a gentle blue. In the language of flowers, they represent success.
Where to See Nemophila
Baby blue eyes can be seen seemingly stretching to no end at Hitachi Seaside Park. It gets crowded during peak season, but not, I would say, as insufferable as Ashikaga Flower Park. Hitachi Seaside is vast, and it would take a day to leisurely explore its entirety, so if you get tired of the crowds, you can escape to another area of the park.
You can also see nemophila at Tobu Treasure Garden. There aren’t as many, but they’re pretty nonetheless. Plus, it’s hardly known so you won’t have to worry about large crowds.
When to See Nemophila
Nemophila in Japan are in season from mid-April to mid-May.
As explained in the preceding section, tours to Hitachi Seaside Park are often coupled with Ashikaga Flower Park especially in April and May. Some of the tours have other fun activities thrown in like fruit picking. Public transport can take you to these parks just fine, but if you want to avoid the hassle of navigating with mostly Japanese signs to guide (or confuse) you, tours are the way to go.
No, you don’t have to come to Japan just for the roses, but they’re on this list, because, well, they’re pretty and they are celebrated in Japan, too. They’re called bara in Japanese, and many varieties can be seen blooming in the country.
Where to See Roses
There’s no need to travel far as there are two excellent locations right within Tokyo.
One is Kyu-Furukawa Gardens in Bunkyo Ward. The Western-style garden boasts various species, and paint a lovely picture with the classic beauty of the Otani Art Museum.
One other place in Tokyo that has grows lovely roses is the Jindai Botanical Gardens in Chofu. The garden is close to the impressive Jindaiji Temple, which extends to idyllic streets with various soba restaurants and shops selling traditional crafts.
When to See Roses
Roses have different types and bloom in two different periods in a year. They can be seen in abundance from May to June, and again from October to November.
Representing refinement and devotion, lavender grace the fields in the summer months. As I have not gone on a lavender photo spree myself, it’s on my bucket list this year.
Where to See Lavender
Perhaps the most famous place for lavender is Furano in Hokkaido, particularly Farm Tomita. Lavender can be seen growing in abundance, on fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. You can also eat lavender-flavored ice cream during this season.
Closer to Tokyo are the lavender fields that can be found in Yagizaki Park near Lake Kawaguchi. They cover less ground, but you get the added bonus of getting Mt. Fuji in your photos.
When to See Lavender
Lavender in Japan typically bloom from late June to early August, a bit longer than most flowers.
As beautiful as Hokkaido is, the prefecture is rather hard to navigate using only public transportation. Last I went (May 2018), bus schedules were not recognized by Google Maps and I had to frequently check websites with confusing tables, all written in Japanese. If you don’t have a car, sightseeing bus tours are your best option. If you have more money to splurge, a private charter would be worth investing in.
A Tip Before You Go
Japan knows how to celebrate flowers and the country does not lack for charming spots. Blooming seasons vary every year, however, and there have been times when I was either too early or too late to catch the flowers at their best.
One good way to avoid this is to check the official accounts of the places you are to visit, as most of them have updates on the blooming status of flowers. Looking up photos through related hashtags on Instagram might give you an idea as well. For this, it’s better to check non-photographer accounts as you get more real-time updates.
That said, I hope you enjoy Japan’s spring and summer flowers, and that you may cross many things off your bucket list this year.