Ashikaga Wisteria Park Japan 4b

Japan is really a country that celebrates its four seasons. From welcoming in spring and the cherry blossoms during the hanami season to admiring the autumn leaves during momijigari, Japan seems like a country perfect for those who appreciate and love being around nature in all its forms.

In spring, there is no shortage of places to view the season’s flowers. For flower lovers, I would totally recommend heading to Japan towards the end of cherry blossom season / right after cherry blossom season because there is so much more to the flowering landscape of Japan than just cherry blossoms. Enter wisteria, tulips (blogged about it here), canola flowers and the lesser known but super stunning nemophila!

For those staying in Tokyo, here are two flower-filled day trips you can make from the city.

1. Ashikaga Flower Park 

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Ashikaga Flower Park is a famous wisteria park about 1.5 hours train ride from Tokyo.  To get there, you need to take a shinkansen from Tokyo station to Oyama (Tochigi) station. Then transfer to a local JR line, the JR Ryomo Line for Takasaki, to Tomita station. Once at Tomita station, it is a short walk (maybe 10 minutes) to the flower park. There are always heaps of tourists visiting so simply follow the crowd. Entry cost depends on how bloomed it is on the particular day you are visiting and so can cost anywhere from 300Y to 1700Y.
The thing with flower parks is of course that you can never guarantee when they will flower when you are booking your trip to Japan. The wisteria at Ashikaga typically are expected to be in full bloom in the beginning of May, however during the time we visited, they were blooming later than expected so we only got to see it at half bloom. It was still beautiful though and there are a variety of wisteria here, including purple, yellow, white and pink ones. At night, there are illuminations too so do stay on for that if you are keen to see it all lit up. We left before the illuminations started as it was raining on the day we visited.
One thing to know about Ashikaga Flower Park is that it is definitely on the smaller side of flower parks that we have visited. There are also so many tourists here, especially tour buses dropping massive amounts of people off. So expect to not to have the park to yourself, haha. It’s also very manmade with lots of installations, trellises and all, so it’s more of a flower display park rather than seeing flowers in a park in their natural environment – the latter of which I prefer. The wisteria flowers are arranged into beautiful wisteria tunnels though, so it really is quite magical.
There is some yummy wisteria ice-cream you can try here. It’s definitely recommended. The taste is quite subtle so it’s more a hint of wisteria!

2. Hitachi Seaside Park

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Wearing: Mister Zimi Poppy Nina jumpsuit | Lucid Label coat | Lack of Colour Pink Velour hat | Bared Shoes Lyrebird sneakers

 Hitachi Seaside Park is a little more further to get to but still doable from Tokyo. In April, the famous blue nemophila flowers are in full bloom and so if you love flower parks you’ll feel like the trip is definitely worth it! Hitachi is quite a trek from Tokyo. From Ueno station, we caught the limited express Hitachi line to Katsuta station. At Katsuta station, follow the well-signed path to ‘Ibaraki Kotsu’ bus at bus stop #2 which is a shuttle bus that gets you to Hitachi Seaside Park. Japan seems passionate about making sure everything is smooth-sailing and easy to follow so as you leave the train station you will most certainly see people holding massive signs of the park and pointing you to the right direction.The bus ticket we bought was a round trip ticket and included entry to the park too (can’t remember the price unfortunately, but was around 1000ish yen!). The trip all up from Tokyo can take up to 2 hrs.

When we got to Hitachi, the line was beyond imaginable. We had caught such an early train leaving Tokyo but even then, I would almost not be lying if I said it snaked for almost a kilometre long (ok, maybe 600m?) around the front of the park. A very, very well organised snake, mind you!! Anyway I honestly have never seen such a long line. Anyway, as per usual, the Japanese are extremely efficient. There were dozens of staff manning the doors and we went through the ticket gates so efficiently that I seriously could not believe my eyes. So don’t be afraid if you arrive at the park and see such a massive line too!

Whilst the park is massive, the main attraction at Hitachi Seaside Park during spring is the nemophila flowers which are at ‘Miharashi Hill’ in the park. It is quite walkable and most people walk from the entry to see the flowers. I would expect it takes about 10-15mins to walk to the nemophila. However, if you want to then see the rest of the park, it’s best to hire a bike and use the bike routes in the park. It costs 400 yen to hire a bike for 3 hrs. This you prepay first. If you want to hire the bike for longer than 3 hours, you simply return it when you are done and pay the extra time at 50 yen per half hour after. We were initially confused about this and thought we could only hire for 3 hrs, but don’t worry, you can have the bike longer than that.

If you don’t want to walk or bike, there’s a little shuttle train around the park for 500Y per person for a one day round trip ticket. You can hop on and off at 10 different stations around the park.

All in all, I really enjoyed Hitachi Flower Park because of the bike paths and the openness. The nemophila area is extremely packed but everywhere else is completely empty. One tip I do have however is to put on more layers than you think you need. As the park is next to the coast, there is a pretty strong cold breeze coming through. We froze our butts off whilst we were there, otherwise we would have spent longer!

Photos: Tom Debono & Connie Cao