What is the Kawachi Fuji Garden?
Even if you don't know the name, you've probably seen pictures of it: it's a large garden space most famous for its wisteria tunnels, so you can walk underneath the hanging flowers. It's an incredible site to see! There are millions of flowers in pink, purple, and white.
Unfortunately, the flowers are really only in bloom for about a month, usually including Golden Week: if you plan to go during that time, it'll likely be extremely crowded. It also helps if you can be a bit flexible on the date, especially if you're planning to go towards the beginning/end of the season: the garden is only open when the flowers are in bloom.
That said, this year Kawachi Fuji Garden had shuttle buses running during at least part of the wisteria season (this year it appeared to be during peak and around peak season; I'm not certain if they were running during the very ends of the season). I arrived shortly after peak season ended (more on this later), but a shuttle bus was still running once an hour from the station to the garden. The shuttle is free, and can be found in the waiting area for shuttle buses by the station: go out of Yahata Station, turn left, and follow the sidewalk. There was a sign posted at the stop where the shuttle bus would come, and it had the name of the garden posted in English along with times.
Due to the the number of people coming to see the gardens, especially during peak season, this year they required that tickets be purchased in advance at convenience stores in Japan (e.g. 7/11). My understanding was that tickets could be purchased at convenience stores around the country (not necessarily in the city or even in Kyushu), but the machines do not have English instructions. Alternatively, some tours may offer a stop at the garden, which is another way to get in. If you don't want to take a tour but don't speak/read Japanese, your best bet may be to ask someone (e.g. a staff at your hotel/inn, or your host at your AirBnB) to help out. The official website also has instructions on how to purchase (in Japanese) during the season, including step-by-step pictures; unfortunately the guide isn't up anymore, otherwise I would link it. Note that these tickets are meant for a specific day and time that you specify when buying, and you MUST come during that time unless the garden is closed that day due to poor weather: refunds will not be given otherwise. This is meant to help control the flow of visitors so it's not overcrowded during peak season.
However, if you come past peak season, you may be able to pay at the garden in cash. They will announce on their website once they're starting to accept cash at the gate instead of advance purchase tickets, but this depends entirely on the state of the flowers and if the flow of visitors has slowed enough.
Overall Impression & Miscellaneous Notes
Some extra notes:
- There's no washroom in the garden, but there's one in the parking lot. Best to go at the train station if you can. Note that you can't go out of the garden area and come back in.
- Selling pictures of the garden is strictly prohibited.
- Taking pictures is fine, but tripods are against the rules. (I did see one tripod stand, but that might have been because I came late in the season so there weren't many people milling around. If you come during peak season and there are lots of people, lots of people using tripods could cause some trouble.)
- There's a little picnic area at the end of the wisteria trail, so if you'd like to buy some sandwiches/rice balls/bentos and come here to eat, that's an option. They request that you eat at that area only, though, to avoid blocking the flow of people moving through the garden.