Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms, Japan has so many other colourful flowers to enjoy in 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. 

Part of the beauty of enjoying flowers is their fleetingness and ephemeral nature: the flowers only bloom for a few days each season, but that short season is simply unforgettable. Let’s take a look at six spring flowers and when to catch them!

 

 Nemophila (ネモフィラ)

Have you heard of nemophila (ネモフィラ)? With small, blue petals and a white centre, they are also known as “baby blue eyes”. Blue flowers are considered rare in nature, so imagine these flowers carpeting the ground: such a sight to behold! Here are two places to enjoy nemophila:

 

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (海の中道海浜公園)

Nemophila at Uminanokamichi Seaside Park in Fukuoka, JapanNemophila at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. | Photo by photoAC

Located in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (海の中道海浜公園) is home to Flower Hill (花の丘), where 1.2 million nemophila flowers cover 12,000sqm of land. Best enjoyed from mid to late April, the splendid sight of these beautiful baby blue blossoms together with the sapphire skies is fantasy-like and calming!

 

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (海の中道海浜公園)
Viewing period: mid to late April (varies each year)
Address: 18-25 Saitozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 811-0321
Access: Right outside JR Uminonakamichi Station (海ノ中道駅)

 

Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園)

Nemophila at Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki, JapanNemophila at Hitachi Seaside Park. | Photo by 茨城県庁

One of the best places in Japan to view nemophila, Miharashi Hill (みはらしの丘) at Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園) in Ibaraki Prefecture transforms into a dreamy scene reminiscent of a faraway fantasy when it is covered with over 5.3 million of these beautiful blue flowers, with late April being the best time to see them. 

 

Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園)
Viewing period: mid-April to early May (varies each year)
Address: 605-4 Onuma-aza, Mawatari, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki 312-0012
Access: 20-minute bus ride from JR Katsuta Station (勝田駅)

 

 Azaleas (つつじ)

Another flower that not many visitors might be familiar with is azaleas (つつじ tsutsuji), flowering shrubs that have vivid and vibrant colours, usually in shades of orange and pink. Whether they’re groomed into round shrubs, or growing wildly on the mountainside, these bright flowers are a brilliant sight to behold.

 

Mount Tokusenjo (徳仙丈山)

Wild azaleas at Mount TokusenjoWild azaleas at Mount Tokusenjo. | Photo by photoAC

One of Japan’s most famous azalea viewing spots, Mount Tokusenjo (徳仙丈山) is a 711m-high mountain in Miyagi Prefecture’s Kesennuma City. Around 500,000 azaleas grow naturally around the mountaintop, creating a spectacular sea of red when the flowers are in bloom. A hike around the mountain trail to see the azaleas takes around 2.5 hours for a round trip. Be overwhelmed by the grandeur and scale of the bright red azaleas, which spread across the side of the mountain!

 

Mount Tokusenjo (徳仙丈山)
Viewing period: mid to late May (varies each year)
Address: Akaiwamonomi, Kesennuma, Miyagi 988-0165
Access: 45-minute bus ride from JR Kesennuma Station (気仙沼駅)

 

Tsurimine Park (鶴峯公園)

Azalea shrubs in Tsurumine ParkAzalea shrubs in Tsurumine Park. | Photo by photoAC

Home to over over 30,000 azalea bushes of 30 varieties, every year from early to mid-May Nagano Prefecture’s Tsurumine Park (鶴峯公園) comes alive with gorgeous round azalea shrubs in varying shades of red, orange, pink, and purple.

The park was a generous donation from a wealthy benefactor, so as a gesture of gratitude, the villagers decided to adorn the park with 300 azalea bushes. However, a miscommunication arose during the ordering process: when indicating their desired quantity with three fingers, it was misconstrued as an order for “three freight cars’ worth” due to the esteemed status of the land donor. Unable to be returned, the three freight cars’ worth of azaleas were meticulously planted throughout Tsurumine Park, turning it into a floral paradise for generations to enjoy!

 

Tsurimine Park (鶴峯公園)
Viewing period: early to mid-May (varies each year)
Address: 3-13 Kawagishigami, Okaya, Nagano 394-0048
Access: 25-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride from JR Okaya Station (岡谷駅)

 

 Wisteria (藤)

Wisteria (藤 fuji) grows on vines, so older wisteria trees need to be supported in a way that lets their vines hang downwards, creating gorgeous curtains of flowers. Here are the top two places to enjoy dreamy pastel purple wisteria curtains:

 

Kawachi Wisteria Garden (河内藤園)

Wisteria tunnel at Kawachi Wisteria Garden in KyushuWisteria tunnel at Kawachi Wisteria Garden. | Photo by photoAC

Known for its two 100m-long wisteria tunnels, the Kawachi Wisteria Garden (河内藤園) in Fukuoka Prefecture offers dreamy displays of wisteria flowers in shades of purple and white that look like they’re straight out of an Impressionist painting. The best time to enjoy the flowers is around late April to early May. Due to the park’s growing popularity in recent years, advanced ticket purchase is required; tickets are not available for sale on site.

 

Kawachi Wisteria Garden (河内藤園)
Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)
Address: 2-2-48 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 805-0045
Access: 20-minute taxi ride from JR Yahata Station (八幡駅)

 

Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク)

An illuminated wisteria tree is the highlight of Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, JapanIllumination of a large wisteria tree at Ashikaga Flower Park. | Photo by photoAC

At Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク ) in Tochigi Prefecture, the undisputed star of the park is the giant old wisteria tree. Estimated to be around 150 years old, this tree is prized by the park as the “Most Beautiful Great Wisteria in the World”, and creates a large umbrella of purple flowers when in bloom. In the evenings during the blooming period, the trees are illuminated from below, creating an even more magical sight. Aside from the popular purple wisteria that bloom from mid-April to early May, the park also has white and yellow wisteria that bloom from early to late May.

 

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)

Address: 607 Hasama-cho, Ashikaga, 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)

 

 

 Shibazakura (芝桜)

Known as “pink moss phlox” in English, shibazakura (芝桜) is a type of groundcover with small flowers that carpet the ground when in bloom. Despite its name, shibazakura is not a type of sakura, but is so named because it looks like pink sakura flowers growing from the ground (shiba means lawn). Here are two places close to Tokyo where you can enjoy shibazakura:

 

Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり)

Shibazakura and Mount FujiView of shibazakura and Mount Fuji. | Photo by Carissa Loh

As an iconic symbol of Japan, and with an almost symmetrical peak, having Mount Fuji in view makes any scenery better. Over at Lake Motosu (本栖湖), the Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり) is held from mid-April to late May, with late April to early May being the best time to see them. The festival showcases 500,000 shibazakura flowers of 8 varieties covering the grounds in vivid shades of pink, purple, and white, creating amazing scenery that rivals the splendour of cherry blossoms. 

Read up about the Fuji Shibazakura Festival in more detail over at our sister website JR Times!

 

Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり)
Viewing period: late-April to early May (varies each year)
Address: 212 Motosu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru, Yamanashi 401-0337
Access: 40-minute bus ride from Kawaguchiko Station (河口湖駅)

 

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

Shibazakura in Chichibu, SaitamaShibazakura at Hitsujiyama Park Shibazakura Hill. | Photo by photoAC

Saitama is a prefecture right beside Tokyo, and is quick and convenient for a day trip over the weekend. If you’re planning to catch shibazakura, you can do so at Hitsujiyama Park (羊山公園), where the Shibazakura Hill (芝桜の丘 ) boasts 400,000 shibazakura flowers planted in colourful patterns for visitors to enjoy.

 

Hitsujiyama Park Shibazakura Hill (羊山公園芝桜の丘)
Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)
Address: 6360 Omiya, Chichibu, Saitama 368-0023
Access: 20-minute walk from Seibu Railway Seibu-Chichibu Station (西武秩父駅) or Chichibu Railway Ohanabatake Station (御花畑駅)

 

 Tulips (チューリップ)

Tulips (チューリップ) were brought over to Japan from Europe in the 19th century, and these lovely flowers are the prefectural flowers of both Toyama Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture. Toyama Prefecture is the largest producer of tulips in Japan, while Niigata Prefecture is not only the second largest producer, but also the first place in Japan to produce tulip bulbs. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to enjoy them:

 

Tonami Tulip Fair (となみチューリップフェア)

Tulips at the Tonami Tulip FairTulips at the Tonami Tulip Fair. | Photo by Carissa Loh

Toyama Prefecture’s Tonami City is the top tulip producer in Japan, and hosts the annual Tonami Tulip Fair (となみチューリップフェア) in late April to early May. The 2-week-long fair lets visitors admire 3 million colourful tulips in 300 varieties across the grounds of Tonami Tulip Park. Enjoy a panoramic view from the Tulip Tower’s observation deck, stroll through a Dutch-style garden, a waterwheel garden, walk through a tulip wall, admire tulips of all shapes and colours, and more!

 

Tonami Tulip Fair (となみチューリップフェア)
Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)
Address: 100-1 Nakamura, Tonami, Toyama 939-1382
Access: 15-minute walk from JR Tonami Station (砺波駅)

 

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

ulip field at the Gosen City Tulip Festival in Niigata

Tulip field at the Gosen City Tulip Festival. | Photo by 新潟県観光協会

Over in Niigata Prefecture is the Gosen City Tulip Festival (五泉市チューリップ祭り), one of Japan’s most well-known tulip festivals. As they are susceptible to disease in the soil, it is not recommended to cultivate tulips continuously in the same field, so the Gosen City Tulip Festival is held at different fields every year, in a cycle of about 5 years. Frolic among 1.5 million tulips of various colours blooming from mid to late April, and enjoy a festive atmosphere with the food and drink stalls around.

 

Gosen City Tulip Festival (五泉市チューリップ 祭り)
Viewing period: mid to late April (varies each year)
Address: Ipponsugi, Sumoto, Gosen, Niigata 959-1601
Access: 10-minute taxi ride from JR Gosen Station (五泉駅)

 

 Rapeseed blossoms (菜の花)

Surround yourself in a field of happiness amidst the vibrant brilliance of rapeseed blossoms (菜の花nanohana ). Also known as canola blossoms, these flowers bloom a bright shade of yellow, a colour often linked with happiness.

 

Iiyama Nanohana Festival (いいやま菜の花まつり)

Nanohana blossoms with the Japanese Alps in the backgroundRapeseed blossoms at the Iiyama Nanohana Festival. | Photo by Shinshu Iiyama Tourism Bureau

Usually held in late April to early May, the Iiyama Nanohana Festival (いいやま菜の花まつり) in Nagano Prefecture lets you enjoy fields of rapeseed blossoms together with stunning views of Nagano’s scenic countryside, against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains in the distance. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch the last of the pretty pink cherry blossom trees blooming in tandem with the cheery yellow rapeseed blossoms!

 

Iiyama Nanohana Festival (いいやま菜の花まつり)
Viewing period: late April to early May (varies each year)
Address: 413 Mizuho, Iiyama, Nagano 389-2322
Access: 25-minute bus ride from JR Iiyama Station (飯山駅)

 

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

Rapeseed blossoms at the Nanohana Festival in Yokohama.Rapeseed blossoms at the Nanohana Festival in Yokohama. | Photo by 青森県観光連盟

Over in a quiet town in mainland Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Aomori is one of the country’s largest expanses of rapeseed blossom fields, which had a record of 128 hectares. This town is called Yokohama (not to be confused with the city near Tokyo), and every year in mid-May it hosts the Nanohana Festival in Yokohama (菜の花フェスティバルinよこはま). Rapeseed blossoms grow to be quite tall, and one of the festival’s highlights is the rapeseed blossom maze.

 

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)
Address: Mameda, Yokohama, Kamikita, Aomori 039-4114
Access: 10-minute taxi ride from JR Mutsu-Yokohama Station (陸奥横浜駅)

 

Enjoy Spring with JAPAN RAIL CLUB

With so many spring flowers to admire and spring activities to try, there’s no better time to visit Japan than in spring.

 

Enjoy spring-motif Japanese snacks with JAPAN RAIL CLUB's Omiyage Snack Box

Not travelling to Japan in time for spring this year? Worry not; usher in spring right at your doorstep with JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s Omiyage Snack Box! Exclusive to the month of April 2024, this month’s snack box features an exciting variety of spring-themed snacks from Japan such as the Sakura Karinto by Tokyo-based maker Marui Suzuki, and Plum Blend Coffee by renowned Saza Coffee. 

Subscribe by 30 April 2024 to enjoy discounts of up to USD33 when you apply the promo code “SPRING14” on the checkout page. In addition to this month’s seasonal box, you can expect to receive a wide range of Japanese treats from all corners of Japan every month through your subscription with us. Have a happy spring and remember to always stop and smell the flowers~