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Floral fantasy: 12 Colourful flowers to enjoy in spring

Floral fantasy: 12 Colourful flowers to enjoy in spring

Updated as of 15 May 2023
Originally published on 22 January 2021


Japan may be synonymous with its national flower, the lovely cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in spring, but other than these pale pink flowers, there are a variety of flowers that herald the beginning of spring. After a long and cold winter, the sight of flowers blooming is a sign of spring arriving, when the weather starts to warm up and colours return to the land.


Although overshadowed by the beloved cherry blossoms, there are many other colourful blooms to catch between spring to early summer. These flowers bloom for only a limited number of weeks each year, and this fleetingness is part of their beauty. Personally, the huge variety of colourful flowers make spring one of my favourite seasons!


Calendar of flowers. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)


Perhaps you are curious about the other types of flowers, or perhaps you cannot travel to Japan during the cherry blossom period. Whatever the reason, you will be glad to know that there are so, so many different flowers to see. From cheery yellow nanohana (rapeseed blossom) fields to deep pink hanamomo (peach blossoms), baby blue nemophila, vivid warm-toned azaleas, crimson poppies, and mystic blue hydrangeas, here are my top 12 spring flower recommendations (in order of blooming period) for the Eastern Japan area:


1) Plum blossoms (梅)

One of the earliest flowers to bloom (usually from February to March in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo), plum blossoms (梅 ume) have long played an important part in Japanese culture. In Japan, the blooming of plum blossoms signals the beginning of spring, something many people have been waiting for all winter. 


Kairakuen (偕楽園) 

Viewing period: mid-February to mid-March (varies each year)

Plum blossoms. (Image credit: 茨城県観光物産協会)


Although the popularity of plum blossoms as a flower was eventually surpassed by cherry blossoms, plum blossoms are still enjoyed all over Japan. Compared to cherry blossoms, most plum blossoms have five rounded petals and a strong sweet fragrance, which I personally enjoy.


Plum blossoms at Kairakuen. (Image credit: 茨城県観光物産協会)


One of the best places near Tokyo to catch these heralds of spring is Kairakuen (偕楽園), one of Japan’s top three landscape gardens. From mid-February to late March every year, head down to Mito City (水戸市 Mito-shi) and enjoy over 3,000 plum trees of 100 varieties at the garden’s Plum Blossom Festival (梅まつり ume matsuri). There is even a temporary train station (JR Kairakuen Station (偕楽園駅)) that only operates during this plum blossom period!


Kairakuen (偕楽園)
Address: 1-3-3 Tokiwacho, Mito, Ibaraki 310-0033
Nearest station: JR Kairakuen Station (偕楽園駅) / JR Mito Station (水戸駅)
Access: Right by JR Kairakuen Station (偕楽園駅) (this station only operates during the Plum Blossom Festival period). Otherwise, from JR Mito Station (水戸駅), take a 15-minute bus ride and get off at Kairakuen-mae (偕楽園前) bus stop.
Opening hours: 06:00–19:00 (Mid-February to 30 September), 07:00–18:00 (1 October to mid-February)
Admission fee: ¥300/Adult


2) Apricot blossoms (あんず)  

Next up, we have another “fruit blossom”, the apricot blossom. Chikuma City is located in Nagano Prefecture along the Chikuma River, Japan’s longest river, and one of its claims to fame is being the largest producer of apricots (あんず anzu) in Japan. During spring, you can enjoy the pretty pink blossoms of these apricot trees.


Anzu no Sato (あんずの里)

Viewing period: late-March to mid-April (varies each year)

Apricot blossoms at Anzu no Sato. (Image credit: 信州千曲観光局)


Also known as “100,000 trees in one glance” (一目十万本 Hitome Jūmanbon), Chikuma City’s Anzu no Sato (あんずの里) is filled with tens of thousands of apricot trees that stretch as far as the eye can see. Anzu no Sato is also known as the best place in Japan to see apricot blossoms, and you can enjoy the view of apricot trees together with snow-capped mountains in the background; what a beautiful sight!


Apricot blossoms. (Image credit: 信州千曲観光局)


For a small city, how did Chikuma come to be the biggest producer of apricots? Well, it is said that one of the former feudal lords was betrothed to a princess from the faraway Shikoku region. When she moved to Chikuma, she brought along some apricot seeds to remind her of her hometown in Shikoku. As luck would have it, Nagano’s climate and soil turned out to be perfect for growing apricot trees! The apricot trees flourished, and today you can enjoy them every spring.


Anzu no Sato (あんずの里)
Address: 515-1 Yashiro, Chikuma, Nagano 387-0007
Nearest station: Yashiro Station (屋代駅)
Access: 10-minute taxi ride from Shinano Railway Yashiro Station (屋代駅).
Opening hours: All day
Admission fee: Free


3) Tulips (チューリップ) 

The tulip (チューリップ chūrippu) is the prefectural flower of Niigata Prefecture, which was the first place in Japan to produce tulip bulbs. With fertile soil and favourable weather, Niigata is the second top producer of tulips in Japan. Every spring, you can enjoy many tulip festivals all over Niigata. Here are some of them:


Gosen City Tulip Festival (五泉市チューリップ 祭り)

Viewing period: mid to late April (varies each year)

Tulips at the Gosen City Tulip Festival. (Image credit: 新潟県観光協会)


You can’t talk about tulips in Niigata without mentioning the Gosen City Tulip Festival (五泉市チューリップ祭り Gosen-shi chūrippu matsuri). One of the largest and most well-known tulip festivals, you can frolic among the 1.5 million tulips of various colours blooming here from mid to late April, and enjoy a festive atmosphere with the food and drink stalls around.


Tulip tip: It is not recommended to cultivate tulips continuously in the same field, because they are susceptible to disease in the soil. Therefore, the Gosen City Tulip Festival is held at different fields every year, in a cycle of about 5 years.


Gosen City Tulip Festival (五泉市チューリップ 祭り)
Address: Ipponsugi, Sumoto, Gosen-shi, Niigata 959-1601
Nearest station: JR Gosen Station (五泉駅)
Access: 10-minute taxi ride from JR Gosen Station (五泉駅).
Admission fee: Free


Echigo Hillside Park Tulip Festival (国営越後丘陵公園チューリップまつり)

Viewing period: mid to late April (varies each year)

Tulips at Echigo Hillside Park. (Image credit: 新潟県観光協会)


Another great place to view tulips is at the Echigo Hillside Park, which hosts the Echigo Hillside Park Tulip Festival (国営越後丘陵公園チューリップまつり). Although smaller in scale, this place is great for families with children as there are many activities and play areas for them. Also, as the park is located on a hill, you can see elevated tulips, and not just a flat view.


Echigo Hillside Park (国営越後丘陵公園)
Address: 1905-1 Aza Mitsumata, Miyamotohigashikata-machi, Nagaoka-shi, Niigata 940-2082
Access: 35-minute bus ride from JR Nagaoka Station (長岡駅).
Opening hours: 09:30–17:00 (April)
Admission fee: ¥450/Adult (15 years old and above), ¥210/Senior (65 years old and above), Free for junior high and below.


4) Hanamomo (花桃)

While “fruit blossoms” like plum blossoms and apricot blossoms eventually grow into edible fruit, edible peaches (桃 momo) and flowering peaches (花桃 hanamomo) are two completely different trees. The ones we can enjoy looking at are the hanamomo peach blossoms, which are purely decorative plants.


Hanamomo no Sato (花桃の里)

Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)

Hanamomo in bloom at Hanamomo no Sato. (Image credit: Achi Hirugami Tourism Bureau)


Nestled in the Kiso Valley is Hirugami Onsen (昼神温泉), considered by many to be the best place to view hanamomo. This quiet hot spring village boasts alkaline waters that are good for improving skin tone and healing fatigue, and from late April until early May, about 5,000 colourful hanamomo trees turn this area into an idyllic paradise.


Colourful Hanamomo trees. (Image credit: Achi Hirugami Tourism Bureau)


Hanamomo no Sato (花桃の里) is a 4km path lined with peach blossom trees which come in varying shades of pink, ranging from an almost-white pale pink to a deep pink that’s bordering red. Some trees even sprout three colours of flowers; which are truly an exquisite sight. This site hosts the Hanamomo Festival (花桃まつり Hanamomo Matsuri) from late April to early May.


To best enjoy hanamomo, I recommend spending a night at Hirugami Onsen. Other than its beautiful peach blossoms and relaxing hot spring waters, Hirugami Onsen is also a stone’s throw from Japan’s number one area for star-viewing (according to the Ministry of Environment)—Star Village Achi (スタービレッジ阿智 Sutā Birejji Achi). Many of the accommodations at Hirugami Onsen offer evening tours to Star Village Achi, so you can enjoy a terrific trio of hot springs, peach blossoms, and starry skies on a trip to Hirugami Onsen (if the weather conditions align).


Hanamomo no Sato (花桃の里)
Address: Chisato, Achi, Shimoina-gun, Nagano 395-0304
Nearest station: Kami-Suwa Station (上諏訪駅)
Access: Take a 1-hour 30-minute bus ride to "Hirugami Onsen Bus Stop" from Kami-Suwa Station, and take a 15-minute taxi ride to Hanamomo no Sato. Please note that this bus is for guests staying overnight at Hirugami Onsen, with a fee of ¥2,500 (round trip). Reservations should be made online by 9am three days prior to your arriving date. A shuttle service also runs between Hirugami Onsen Bus Stop to Hanamomo no Sato during the Hanamomo season (as of 2022). For more information on bus services, visit their website.
Opening hours: All day
Admission fee: Free


5) Nemophila (ネモフィラ) 

If you are familiar with flowers you would know that blue flowers are considered rare, especially when compared to warm-tones like pink/red/orange/yellow. However, you’ll be happy to know that you can enjoy some beautiful baby blue flowers known as nemophila. Nemophila (ネモフィラ nemofira) have small, translucent blue petals, and are also known as "baby blue eyes".  


Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園)

Viewing period: mid-April to early May (varies each year)

(Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)


From mid-April to early May, Miharashi-no-oka Hill (みはらしの丘) at Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園 Hitachi Kaihin Kо̄en) in Ibaraki Prefecture turns onto a dreamy scene reminiscent of a fantasy as it is covered with 4.5 million of these beautiful blue flowers.


With a colour similar to the sky, the sight of these pretty blue blooms together with the azure skies is fantasy-like and calming; no wonder it continues to gain popularity. I first visited in mid-May 2016, but was too late and the blossoms were already gone. In late April 2019, I visited again and was lucky to be just in time for the peak blooming period!


See nemophila and nanohana at the same time. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)


Bonus: you can also see bright yellow rapeseed blossoms (菜の花 nanohana) together with the baby blue nemophila. Check out my previous article on my experience visiting Hitachi Seaside Park to see nemophila here.


Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園)
Address: 605-4 Onuma-aza, Mawatari, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki 312-0012
Nearest station: JR Katsuta Station (勝田駅)
Access: 15–20-minute bus ride from JR Katsuta Station (勝田駅).
Opening hours: Check website here 
Admission fee: ¥700/Adult


6) Shibazakura (芝桜)

Don’t be fooled by its name—shibazakura (芝桜) is not a type of sakura. It is so named because it looks like sakura growing from the ground (shiba means lawn). Known as "pink moss phlox" in English, shibazakura is a type of groundcover with small flowers that carpet the ground when in bloom. There are two notable places in Eastern Japan to view shibazakura, and both of them are near Tokyo:


Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり)

Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)

Enjoy the vivid pink shibazakura against the backdrop of Mount Fuji. (Image credit: Akira Okada / JNTO)


Admit it, as a revered symbol of Japan, and with an almost symmetrical peak, just having Mount Fuji in view makes any scenery better. At the Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri), 500,000 shibazakura flowers cover the grounds in vibrant shades of pink, white, and purple, creating amazing vistas that rival the splendour of cherry blossoms. But alas, to see Mount Fuji is a blessing, and both times I’ve visited I wasn’t able to get a good view of the mountain. Perhaps you’ll be luckier when you visit. As for me, I will keep trying!


Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり)
Address: 212 Motosu, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0337
Access: Take a 40-minute bus ride from Kawaguchiko Station (河口湖駅)
Opening hours: Varies by the day
Admission fee: ¥1,000–¥1,200/Adult


Hitsujiyama Park Shibazakura Hill (羊山公園芝桜の丘)

Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)

Shibazakura at Hitsujiyama Park. (Image credit: Akira Okada / JNTO)


Saitama Prefecture borders Tokyo, and many people who work in Tokyo actually live in Saitama. Luckily for them, they do not have to venture far to experience the vibrant shibazakura, and neither do you if you are planning to stay in Tokyo. At the Shibazakura Hill (芝桜の丘 Shibazakura-no-oka) in Hitsujiyama Park (羊山公園 Hitsujiyama Kōen), you can enjoy the sight of 400,000 shibazakura flowers. Here, the flowers are planted in colourful patterns for you to enjoy.


Hitsujiyama Park (羊山公園)
Address: 6360 Omiya, Chichibu, Saitama 368-0023
Nearest station: Seibu Railway Seibu-Chichibu Station (西武秩父駅) / Chichibu Railway Ohanabatake Station (御花畑駅)
Access: 20-minute walk from Seibu Railway Seibu-Chichibu Station (西武秩父駅) or Chichibu Railway Ohanabatake Station (御花畑駅).
Opening hours: 08:00–17:00
Admission fee: ¥300/Adult


7) Nanohana (菜の花)

The colour yellow is often associated with happiness, so why not surround yourself in happiness with bright yellow nanohana (菜の花 rapeseed blossoms)? Here are two stunning places to enjoy these bright and cheery blossoms:


Nanohana Festival in Yokohama (菜の花フェスティバルinよこはま)

Viewing period: mid to late May (varies each year)

Japan’s largest nanohana fields. (Image credit: 青森県観光連盟)


Located in Aomori Prefecture, the northernmost prefecture on mainland Japan, the quiet town of Yokohama (横浜町 Yokohama-machi) boasts one of the country’s largest expanse of nanohana fields with a size of 86 hectares (in 2023). Back in 2014, the town had bragging rights to having planted 128 hectares of rapeseed blossoms, the size of 25 Tokyo Domes! 


As these blossoms can grow to be quite high, one fun crowd-favourite activity that is held during the festival is the large nanohana maze: don’t get lost and try to make your way through! Although the Nanohana Festival in Yokohama (菜の花フェスティバルinよこはま) is held over a weekend in mid-May, the flowers can be enjoyed before and after the festival dates as well.


Nanohana Festival in Yokohama (菜の花フェスティバルinよこはま)
Address: Mameda, Yokohama-machi, Kamikita-gun, Aomori 039-4114
Nearest station: JR Mutsu-Yokohama Station (陸奥横浜駅)
Access: From JR Mutsu-Yokohama Station (陸奥横浜駅), take a 10-minute taxi ride.
Opening hours: All day
Admission fee: Free


Iiyama Nanohana Festival (いいやま菜の花まつり)

Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)

A perfect view of nanohana, cherry blossoms, and the snow-covered mountains. (Image credit: 信州いいやま観光局)


Another notable place to enjoy nanohana is the Nanohana Park in Iiyama City. The park is located along the Chikuma River, providing great views of the countryside. As this area is further down south compared to Yokohama, you can enjoy the flowers earlier. If you're lucky, you might be able to catch the last of the pink cherry blossoms blooming together with the bright yellow nanohana, against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.


The Iiyama Nanohana Festival (いいやま菜の花まつり Iiyama Nanohana Matsuri) is held over a weekend in early May, but you can also enjoy the flowers before and after the festival dates. During the nanohana season, the city of Iiyama has lots of “Happy Yellow” events. Previous years’ events include an angel wings mural at JR Iiyama Station for you to pose with, and a bright yellow post box in the city (post boxes in Japan are usually red).


Iiyama Nanohana Festival (いいやま菜の花まつり)
Address: 413 Mizuho, Iiyama-shi, Nagano 389-2322  
Access: From JR Iiyama Station (飯山駅), take a 25-minute bus ride and get off at the Yu-no-irisо̄ Iriguchi (湯の入荘入口) bus stop (bus operates only during blooming period)
Opening hours: 09:00–16:30 (in 2023)
Admission fee: Free


8) Wisteria (藤)

So far, many of the flowers on this list either grow on branches or on the ground. The next one I’ll be recommending is a vine-growing flower: wisteria (藤 fuji). Growing on vines, older wisteria need to be supported in a way that lets the vines hang downwards, creating a gorgeous curtain of flowers.


Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク)

Viewing period:

  • Pale purple wisteria: mid to late April (varies each year)
  • Deep purple wisteria: late April to early May (varies each year)
  • White wisteria: early to mid-May (varies each year)
  • Yellow wisteria: mid to late May (varies each year)

Large wisteria tree at Ashikaga Flower Park. (Image credit: Ashikaga Flower Park)


Without a doubt, the best place to see wisteria in Eastern Japan is at Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク Ashikaga Furawā Pāku), where the star is inarguably the massive old wisteria tree. Estimated to be about 150 years old, this tree is prided by the park as the “Most beautiful great wisteria in the world”, and creates a large umbrella of purple flowers when in bloom.


Different coloured wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)


Although deep purple wisteria might be the colour that draws the largest crowds, there are also pale purple, white, and yellow wisteria which bloom at different periods, so you can enjoy wisteria from mid-April to late May.


Check out my previous article on my experience visiting Ashikaga Flower Park to see wisteria here.


Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク)
Address: 607 Hasama-cho, Ashikaga-shi, Tochigi 329-4216
Access: Across the street from JR Ashikaga Flower Park Station (あしかがフラワーパーク駅)
Opening hours: 07:00–21:00 (Special hours during wisteria season)
Admission fee: ¥400–2,100 (Varies with the condition of the flowers)


9) Apple flowers (りんご) 

The final “fruit blossom” on this list is the apple blossom. Apples are one of my favourite fruits, and I was blown away when I first tried a huge variety of apples in Aomori. But other than for picking apples, did you know that apple trees can be enjoyed for their delicate white flowers, which bloom during early to mid-May? To catch them, head over to two of Japan’s top apple producing regions: Aomori and Nagano.


Hirosaki Apple Park (弘前りんご公園)

Viewing period: early to mid-May (varies each year)

Apple blossoms at Hirosaki Apple Park. (Image credit: 青森県観光連盟)


Aomori Prefecture is the top producer of apples in Japan, and within it, Hirosaki City produces the most apples. Hirosaki Apple Park (弘前りんご公園 Hirosaki ringo kōen) has around 2,300 apple trees, and during spring, you can enjoy the view of flowering apple trees with a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Iwaki in the distance.


A week-long Apple Blossom Festival (りんご花まつり ringo hana matsuri) is also held during the blooming period in early May, where visitors can enjoy performances, food stalls, and fun activities like a maze, apple-wood crafting workshops, tea ceremonies, and more.


Hirosaki Apple Park (弘前りんご公園)
Address: 125 Terasawa, Shimizutomita, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8262
Nearest station: JR Hirosaki Station (弘前駅)
Access: From JR Hirosaki Station (弘前駅), take the Tamenobu bus (ためのぶ号) (¥200). (Bus only operates from April to November)
Opening hours: All day
Admission fee: Free


Nagano Apple Line (長野アップルライン)

Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)

Apple trees along the Nagano Apple Line. (Image credit: Nagano Prefecture)


Following Aomori Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture ranks second in terms of apple production. Toyono (豊野) is an area that is particularly known for its fields of apple trees, and there is a 7km stretch along Route 18 that is referred to as Nagano Apple Line (長野アップルライン Nagano Appuru Rain). In late April to early May you can see the flowers blooming on the trees, and from September to November the trees bear fruit.


Nagano Apple Line (長野アップルライン)
Address: Along Route 18, Toyono-machi, Nagano-shi, Nagano
Nearest station: Shinano Railway Toyono Station (豊野駅)
Access: 5 minutes by taxi from Shinano Railway Toyono Station (豊野駅).
Opening hours: There are many apple orchards here which are mostly are privately owned, so check with each orchard if you would like to enter their premises. Otherwise, you can enjoy the view from the roadside for free.


10) Azaleas (つつじ)

Looking for some vivid flowers? Check out azaleas (つつじ tsutsuji)—colourful, flowering shrubs adored for their bright and vivid flowers.


Tsurumine Park (鶴峯公園)

Viewing period: early to mid-May (varies each year)

Azaleas have bright and vivid flowers. (Image credit: Okaya City)


With over 30,000 azalea bushes of 30 varieties, Tsurumine Park (鶴峯公園 Tsurumine Kо̄en) in Nagano Prefecture is ablaze with gorgeous flowers in varying shades of red, orange, pink, and purple during early to mid-May.


Tsurumine Park is the best place to see azaleas in the central Japan region. (Image credit: Okaya City)


What's interesting is the story behind how they came to be: Tsurumine Park was a donation from a wealthy man, who donated land to the village. To celebrate it, the villagers decided to plant 300 azalea bushes in the park. When placing the order, they showed three fingers. Although they meant 300, it was misunderstood as “three freight cars worth” due to the wealth of the donor of the land. The villages were shocked when the large order came, but could not return it, hence all were planted in Tsurumine Park.


A happy mistake led to the birth of the central Japan region’s most famous azalea park, isn’t that wonderful?


Tsurumine Park (鶴峯公園)
Address: 3-13 Kawagishigami, Okaya-shi, Nagano
Nearest station: JR Okaya Station (岡谷駅)
Access: From JR Okaya Station (岡谷駅), walk 25 minutes or take a 5-minute taxi ride.
Opening hours: All day
Admission fee: Free


11) Poppies (ポピー)

You might associate poppies (ポピー popī) with opium (the oriental poppy), but the ones commonly planted in Japan are the Shirley poppy (シャーレーポピー). You don’t have to look far to see them, for one of the largest and best sites to see poppies is located just a stone’s throw away from Tokyo.


Poppies in the Sky (天空のポピー)

Viewing period: mid-May to early June (varies each year)

A beautiful carpet of crimson poppies. (Image credit: ポピーまつり実行委員会)


The stunning Poppies in the Sky (天空のポピー Tenkū no Popī) poppy festival is held at the Sainokuni Fureai Bokujo (彩の国ふれあい牧場 Sainokuni Fureai Bokujо̄) in Saitama Prefecture’s Chichibu region—which is known for being a nature-lover’s getaway for Tokyoites.


A beautiful carpet of poppies at the Poppies in the Sky festival site. (Image credit: ポピーまつり実行委員会)


Marvel at the sight of a whopping 15 million crimson poppies spread over 5 hectares, blanketing the ground and looking like nature’s version of a huge red carpet. The poppy fields are located at an elevation of 500m, so you might even be blessed with a sea of clouds (雲海 unkai) if the weather is right!


Sainokuni Fureai Bokujo (彩の国ふれあい牧場)
Address: 2949-1 Oaza-Sakamoto, Higashi-Chichibumura, Chichibu-gun, Saitama
Nearest station: Chichibu Railway Minano Station (皆野駅)
Access: From Chichibu Railway Minano Station (皆野駅), take a 15-minute taxi ride or take the tour bus for ¥1,500 (round-trip) that is available on selected days.
Opening hours: 09:00–17:00
Admission fee: ¥500/Adult


12) Hydrangeas (あじさい)

Rounding up my list of 12 recommendations are hydrangeas (あじさい ajisai). If plum blossoms signal the beginning of spring, then hydrangeas signal the end of spring and the beginning of summer.


Michinoku Hydrangea Garden (みちのくあじさい園)

Viewing period: late June to late July (varies each year)

Hydrangeas signal the end of spring. (Image credit: 東北観光推進機構)


Most flowers come in different colours due to them being different varieties, but did you know? The colour of hydrangeas can change depending on the pH of the soil. Hydrangeas planted in acidic soil yield blue flowers, while hydrangeas planted in alkaline soil yields pink flowers.


Enjoy thousands of hydrangeas along the 2km path. (Image credit: 岩手県観光協会)


While there are many places in Japan to see hydrangeas, especially around the temples in Kamakura, the best place in Japan for seeing hydrangeas (according to the Nippon Hydrangea Association) is the Michinoku Hydrangea Garden (みちのくあじさい園 Michinoku Ajisai En) in Iwate Prefecture. This is also one of the largest hydrangea gardens in Japan, with an area around the size of three Tokyo Domes.


Along both sides of a 2km path lined with tall cedar trees are about 40,000 hydrangeas of 400 varieties. Enjoy the magical scenery, especially in the early morning when the trees are shrouded in mist. Take a leisurely stroll through the hydrangea garden and enjoy shinrin’yoku (森林浴 forest bathing)—bathing in the energy of Nature.


Michinoku Hydrangea Garden (みちのくあじさい公園)
Address: 111 Harasawa, Maikawa, Ichinoseki-shi, Iwate 021-0221
Access: From JR Ichinoseki Station (一ノ関駅), take a 30-minute bus ride on a bus bound for Surisawa. Get off at the Mizukami Bus Stop (水上停) and walk 20 minutes.
Opening hours: 08:00–17:00
Admission fee:¥1,000/adult, ¥200/child


Getting around

No matter the season, JR East Rail Passes offer substantial discounts for travelling around Eastern Japan. Here are some of the rail passes you can use to visit places mentioned in this article:



The new JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area). (Image credit: JR East)


The new JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area). (Image credit: JR East)


There are two types of JR EAST PASS, with both offering unlimited rides on JR East lines (including bullet trains) in their designated areas for 5 consecutive days. Pass holders can also make seat reservations for bullet trains, some limited express trains and Joyful Trains online for free, up to 1 month in advance, on the JR-EAST Train Reservation.


The JR-EAST Train Reservation. (Image credit: JR East)


The JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) is only ¥30,000, while the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) is only ¥27,000.


JR TOKYO Wide Pass

The JR TOKYO Wide Pass and usage area. (Image credit: JR East)


If you are mostly travelling around the Kanto region, consider getting the JR TOKYO Wide Pass, an affordable pass offering unlimited rail travel on JR East lines (including bullet trains) in the valid area for 3 consecutive days. At only ¥15,000, it is cheaper than a round-trip between Narita Airport and Ashikaga Flower Park (~¥16,000), and even covers the Fujikyūkō Line to Kawaguchiko.


Header image credit: photoAC, JR East / Carissa Loh, 青森県観光連盟, ポピーまつり実行委員会 and 東北観光推進機構


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