The end of cherry blossom season is certainly not the end of flower festivals in Japan. Annually in Japan, after the cherry blossoms, lush purple wisteria flowers arrive, blooming from April to May. Growing on arbor trellises, their delicate vines – heavy, ripe with blossoms – drape down with cascading waterfall-like effect, creating an unforgettable romantic beauty. Wisteria festivals are held all over Japan, starting in mid-April. Here are six of the best, not-to-be-missed of such festivals, where visitors can stroll amidst a canopy of wisteria.
Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu (Kyushu)
The Wisteria Tunnel of Kawachi Fuji Gardens — Photo from JNTO
Last year, the wisteria were in full bloom from May 2 to 5. According to this year’s forecast, the full bloom is scheduled between about April 30 to May 3.
Located in Kitakyushu,
Kawachi Fuji Gardens is one of Japan’s premier wisteria viewing spots. Approximately 150 trees comprising 22 types of wisteria in a variety of colors grow in a 10,000 square meters area. There are many attractions to see in the garden, including a 220-meter long wisteria “tunnel” in which the flowers, in various shades of purple, white, and red, grow overhead on domed trellises. No wonder the garden sits at the top of many visitors' top 10 list of sites to see in the world!
Since Kawachi Fuji is a private garden, visitors are allowed entrance during spring and fall (for viewing autumn leaves). The entrance fees for wisteria viewing varies between 1,500 yen (during full bloom) to free admission (end of season). The park welcomes visitors to picnic and relax underneath the wisteria trees!
- Date: May 2 – 5, 2016
- Hours: 9AM - 6PM
- Cost: Depending on the bloom, Free – 1,500 yen
- Address: 2-2-48 Kawachi, Yahata-Higashi-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka
- Access: By taxi from JR Yahata Station (about 3,000 yen), or from JR Kokura Station (about 4,000 yen). By bus: From JR Yahata Station, take the Nishitetsu bus (about 20 minutes) to Kawachi Shogakko-Mae bus stop. The garden is a 15 minute walk from there.
Ashikaga Flower Park (Tochigi Prefecture)
Magical Illuminations of Ashikaga Park's Wisteria Arbor — Photo from Flickr cc by Manish Prabhune
, covering about 92,000 square meters, is one of the most popular wisteria viewing spots in Japan. The park features two huge arbors, each the size of 300 tatami mats, as well as an 80-meter long white wisteria tunnel!
At night, the arbors are illuminated, creating a unique, flower-filled fantasy land. It’s no surprise that CNN named the park one of the world’s foremost travel destinations.
The wisteria are in bloom for about one month, from mid-April to mid-May. Every morning at 7am, park staff decides the entrance fee for that day (1,700 yen maximum), depending on the state of the bloom and weather conditions.
- Date: April 16 - May 22, 2016
- Hours: 7AM - 6PM
- Cost: Varies depending on flowering conditions. Day ticket: (adult) 900 -1, 700 yen / (child) 500-800 yen, and Night ticket: (adult) 600 -1, 400 yen / (child) 300-700 yen
- Address: 607 Hasamacho, Ashikaga, Tochigi
- Access: From Tokyo, take the Utsunomiya line from Ueno Station to Oyama, and transfer to the Ryomo line. Get off at Tomita Station, and walk about 13 minutes to the park.
Kameido Tenjin Shrine (Tokyo)
Cascading Wisteria at Kameido Tenjin Shrine — Photo from Flickr cc by Yoshizumi
You don’t have to travel outside of Tokyo to view wisteria in full bloom! Located in Koto-ku, near Sky Tree, Kameido Tenjin
is an Edo period shrine where visitors can enjoy this seasonal flower.
Wisteria have been growing at the shrine ever since the shrine was first established over 350 years ago. Now, there are 15 trellises of over 100 varieties. From late April until early May, visitors can stroll amidst the historic buildings, under cascading wisteria that gently sway in the wind.
Along with the wisteria viewing, the festival features tea ceremonies and ikebana displays, in addition to about 100 festival food stands where visitors can get a taste of the flavors of the shitamachi (old town area).
This year’s schedule of events can be seen here
- Date: April 16 - May 5, 2016
- Hours: 8: 30AM - 5PM
- Cost: Free
- Address: 3-6-1 Kameido, Koto, Tokyo
- Access: 15 minute walk from north exit of Kameido Station on the JR Sobu Line, or 15 minute walk from north exit of Kinshicho Station on the JR Sobu Line of Hanzomon Line
Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Nara)
Cascading Wisteria at Kasuga Taisha Shrine — Photo from JNTO
Kasuga Taisha Shrine includes a nearby garden, the Kasuga Taisha Shinen Manyo Botanical Garden with an area over 30,000 square meters. Within the garden are over 300 varieties of plants, described in the Manyoshu, Japan's oldest collection of poems, dating back to the Nara Period.
Within the garden’s southern side, over 200 plants of 20 various species blossom every spring. After entering through the south gate, turn left, and you will see a special type of wisteria, measuring over 1 meter long, hanging from overhead trellises. These are called “sand grazing” wisteria because they reach all the way to the sandy ground below.
The purple of the wisteria strands, next to the bright red columns of the shrine, makes for an elegant atmosphere.
- Date: Mid-April to mid-May 2016
- Hours: 9AM - 4:30PM
- Cost: (Adults) 500 yen
- Address: Kasuga-taisha 160 Kasuganocho Nara
- Access: From Kintetsu Nara station, an 10-minute bus ride to Kasuga Taisha Omotesando stop. 5-minute walk to Shrine.
Wisteria Garden in Sennan City (Osaka)
Wisteria in Full Bloom — Photo from Flickr cc by hatake_s
Located in Sennan City, in Osaka Prefecture, there is a locally famous wisteria garden in the former home of a town resident, the late Masahiro Kajimoto. Planted over 30 years old, the wisteria are of a particularly lush variety and grow on a large arbor over 30 meters wide.
In order to let his neighbors and the public enjoy his garden, Mr. Kajimoto opened his home every year since 1998 during the spring, which turned into a popular local wisteria festival. After his passing, locals stepped in to help preserve the garden, allowing the public to continue enjoying the festival. The gardens are a great way to not only enjoy the wisteria, but a way to honor the work of Mr. Kajimoto. On Saturdays, live flute and ocarina (an ancient flute-like instrument) demonstrations are also held.
- Date: April 24 - April 29, 2016
- Hours: 10AM - 8PM
- Address: 1338 Shindachi-makino, Sennan-shi, Osaka
- Access: 8-minute walk from Izumi Sunagawa Station on the JR Hanwa Line
Byodo-in Temple (Kyoto)
Wisteria at Byodo-in — Photo from Flickr cc by coniferconifer
is a Buddhist temple in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture that was built in the late Heian period. The temple sits along the Uji River and commands beautiful views of the water. In 1994, UNESCO listed the building as a World Heritage Site. Not only is it a famous temple, Byodo-in is a well-known spot for annual cherry blossoms, azaleas, and wisteria flowers viewing, drawing many domestic and foreign visitors.
Located between the Phoenix Hall and Kannon Hall is an arbor where 280-year old vines grow, adding even more romance to the ancient surroundings. Every spring, tourists flock to the temple for the wisteria festival, a photographer’s dream.
- Date: Late April - early May 2016
- Hours: 8:30AM - 5:30PM
- Cost: 600 yen for adults / High school students 400 yen / Students 300 yen
- Address: Renge-116 Uji, Kyoto
- Access: 10 minute walk from JR Uji Station or Keihan Uji station
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