Beyond Sakura – Japan Flower Festivals
These days it is all about sakura, it is pink party everywhere. Families, colleagues, friends and lovers gather around cherry trees to enjoy the view of cherry blossoms. As my friend likes to say “it is 50 shades of sakura show”.
It is quite difficult to get enough of sakura but let’s not forget that they are not the only flowers you can enjoy in Japan, there are many other colors beyond pink. Let’s find out!
1. Nemophila (Baby Blue-Eyes)
This sea of little blue flowers named Nemophila (ネモフィラ) grows in Ibaraki Prefecture inside the Hitachi Seaside Park. The hills are completely covered with tiny blue flowers and on the horizon line it is even difficult to say where the flowers end and the sky begins.
The park is also covered with daffodils and tulips and the best period to enjoy these flowers is from mid-April to mid-May.
2. Fuji (Wisteria)
Wisteria flowers (フジ属) have a particular meaning for me as my Mom’s wedding dress used to be exactly of the same color, I know, sometimes I am too sentimental, forgive me.
In Tokyo the best place to enjoy wisteria is Kameido Tenjin but if you have the chance I suggest to visit Ashikaga Flower Park, in Tochigi Prefecture, from mid-April to the end of May.
3. Bunkyo Ajisai Festival
Around mid June every year Bunkyo Ward in central Tokyo organizes the Bunkyo Ajisai Festival (文京あじさいまつり). The Festival takes place in Hakusan Shrine and Hakusan Park where hundreds of Hydrangea show their colorful flowers ranging from white to purple. During the Festival there are also live music concerts held by students, flea market and food stalls.
4. Freesia Festival
From the end of March to mid April in Hachijojima Island there is the Freesia Festival (フリージア) held when these flowers cover the Island with bright and full colors. Unfortunately the Island can be reached only by plane with a 50 minutes flight from Tokyo so it is not part of the usual itineraries of tourist from overseas.
5. Nanohana Festival
Nanohana (菜の花), Mustard Flowers are in full bloom exactly in the same period of sakura and they are little neglected in favor of the much more advertised pink cousins. But nanohana too have great scenarios to offer so don’t forget about them! The most famous place to enjoy nanohana is the city of Yokohama in Aomori prefecture. Don’t be confused, I am not talking about the big city just south of Tokyo. This Yokohama is a quiet village during the year and it comes to life during Nanohana Festival in mid-May when, while viewing flowers, you can also enjoy some food made especially with nanohana like nanohana ice-cream and nanohana doughnuts.
6. Rose Festival
Kyu Furukawa Garden in Tokyo is famous for its Western style residence and the Roses Festival (薔薇). A number of roses bloom in this garden from mid-May to mid-June, during this period the garden is filled with roses of various kinds and colors included one dedicated to the Japanese Princess Aiko called “princess rose”.
7. Shibazakura Festival
Shibazakura (シバザクラ), pink moss, bloom from mid-April to the end of May and during this period a famous Festival takes place at the foot of Mount Fuji. The Shibazakura Festival will leave you breathless in a land of pink flowers that extends as far as the eyes can see.
Similar scenarios can be seen in Saitama Prefecture, in Hitsujiyama Park which is easier to reach from Tokyo.
8. Kiku Flower Festival
The Kiku Flower (キク属), or chrysanthemum, is the symbol of the Imperial Family and it can be therefore considered the Japanese National flower. Chrysanthemum bloom around November and they are the classic autumn flowers.
One of the places where to enjoy these flowers is the Yushima Tenjin Shrine near Ueno in Tokyo. Besides an incredible variety of flowers during the Festival there are also some rare dolls in display, their clothes are all made of flowers and it is a disappearing art so it is highly recommended to enjoy it as long as it is possible.
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