It just so happened to be that we were in Japan just in time to catch the last week of illuminations at Nabana No Sato. Of course, a day trip had to be scheduled, though it was definitely one of those not-so-convenient to visit places but worth it, if you make the effort! Our main reason for visiting Nabana No Sato was to see the famous famous winter illuminations which went on until early May 2017. The illuminations start around 6pm daily, however the time changes depending on the time the sun sets. On the day we were there, they were scheduled to start at 6:45PM so we had plenty of time to look around before heading to see the illuminations.
How to get to Nabana No Sato from Kyoto:
Getting to Nabana No Sato was quite a feat. It seems that it is not a popular place to visit for tourists, so there was not much information about it online as compared to other tourist attractions. After much research, we finally figured it out. To get to Nabana No Sato from Kyoto, you must first take a train from Kyoto Station to Nagoya Station (Nagoya is the city Nabana No Sato is located near). This takes approximately 1 hour and if you have a JR pass, then you can catch the hiker or kodama shinkansen trains which come approximately once every half hour. At Nagoya station is where things got a little confusing but it turns out there are two options.
The first option is the more convenient but more expensive option. For this option, you make your way from Nabana Station to Meitetsu Bus Station which is outside Nabana Station (try looking out for the signs to find your way there). Once at Meitetsu Bus Centre, try and make your way to the ticket office (from memory, it was up a few flights of stairs. From the ticket office, you purchase a return shuttle bus ticket to Nabana No Sato station. This ticket is $21AUD~ return per adult and takes you straight to the park. The shuttle bus takes 35 mins approximately and comes approximately every half hour – the ticket office will give you a bus timetable. We took this option and even though it was an expensive bus ticket, it was well worth it for the convenience.
The second option is more awkward utilising more local trains, but cheaper. So if you want a cheaper route, go this one. From Nagoya Station, walk to Kintetsu Nagoya station and take the Kintetsu-Nagoya line for Matsusaka/Ujiyamada to Kintetsu-Nagashima Station. This takes approx 20 mins. Once there, change for the shuttle bus bound for Nabana No Sato operated by Mie Kotsu. This takes 20 mins and departs every 20 mins, costing 220 yen ($2.70AUD) one way.
Nana No Sato surprised me with its never ending field of tulips. I had no idea what to expect when we visited as it’s not an overly well known tourist destination as it’s a bit out of the way unless you have a car. The park was packed with locals when we visited however and I can see why they love it here. The tulip garden is really quite beautiful (it’s called the Hanahiroba flower garden) and in autumn, this area is full of dahlias!
Nabana No Sato’s winter illuminations:
The winter illuminations was what we came to the park for and it was absolutely hectic and so magical to see!
However, when we went to line up for the light show approximately 20 minutes before it was starting, we didn’t realise how many people there were. Almost the entire park’s footpaths were filled with people, there would have been tens of thousands of people waiting in line and we were almost worried we wouldn’t make it to see the illuminations before the park closed. Obviously we lined up anyway, and I was surprised at just how civil, friendly and fast the line went. I don’t think we waited for more than 20 minutes once the light show began to see it, it was the fastest line I have ever been in so if you do get to Nabana No Sato and see the world’s largest line, fear not, the Japanese are so efficient and you definitely won’t miss out.
Whilst Nabana No Sato is really quite far from Kyoto, if you love seeing flower fields and would like to see the winter illumination, it would be a good idea to block out an afternoon and evening to visit. Do check when the next winter illumination begins though, as they only happen during the colder season!
Have you guys visited this extraordinary place? Do let me know in the comments below :)