If you are travelling Japan during spring, especially wisteria season, there is no way you can miss out on a visit to a Japanese wisteria gardens. You have seen pictures online and they are even more stunning in real life! Whether durin the day with their soft colours or brightly lit at night, the Japanese wisteria tree is a true stunner! Here are three places, where you can best admire a true wisteria tunnel.
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Ashikaga Flower Park near Tokyo
Ashikaga Flower Park (足利フラワーパーク) lies a bit outside of Tokyo but well worth an afternoon/evening trip to admire the spectacular flower displays and wisteria gardens. There are over 350 Japanese wisteria trees and 5000 azaleas in the park, including white wisteria flowers, the pink wisteria tree type and purple wisteria tree type.
Make your trip especially memorable and arrange it so that you see the Tale of Fuji no Hana, the Japanese Wisteria Festival from mid April to mid May. During this time, the wisteria flower tunnel will be lit up spectacularly at night and the park is open from 7AM until 9PM.
Besides the Japanese wisteria, you can also admire Japanese azalea and peony during the wisteria season. If you come at other times during the year, you can still visit the park for its many other flowers. For instance, on the weekend or during national holidays, arrive between 3:30 and 9:30PM to see the light installation “garden of illuminated flowers”.
In case you are not planning on bringing snacks or your bento box along, make an appointment at the on-site restaurant “Wisteria” in advance. Otherwise, you can also enjoy a lavender flavoured soft ice cream cone. In a soft purple colour, of course.
Opening hours: All year, 9AM-6PM; winter season (end of Nov-Feb): 10AM-5PM
Admission prices: 300-18000 yen for adults (100-900 yen for kids), depending on month
How to get to Ashikaga Flower Park from Tokyo
To get from Tokyo to Ashikaga Flower Park, you need to change lines a few times but it’s not difficult. You mainly rely on JR trains. Make your way to Ueno Station and take the JR Utsunomiya Line to Oyama, where you change to the JR Ryomo Line and get off at Tomita Station. From there it is only a short 13 minute walk to Ashikaga Flower Park.
Alternatively, if you are headed to Ashikaga Flower Park straight from the airport, your connections are slightly different. From Narita Airport, take the Narita Skyliner to Nippori Station, where you jump on the JR Jyoban Line Rapid Train to Katasenju. Take the Express Train “Ryomo” to Ashikaga City, from where you can take a taxi for thirty minutes to Ashikaga Flower Park.
From Haneda Airport, take the Rapid Train Express Train to Asakusa and then the Express Train “Ryomo” to Ashikaga City. The trip will be a mix of JR trains and Tobu Railways.
Address: 〒329-4216 Tochigi Prefecture, Ashikaga, Hasamacho, ６０７
Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo
In case you really don’t have much time or cannot be bothered to leave Tokyo to see the hanging wisteria, head to Kameido Tenjin Shrine (亀戸天神社). It is a moderately sized shrine but very much local. There are more than 20 types of Japanese wisteria and they are blue, purple, pink, white and yellow. To be able to partake in the Wisteria Festival (Fuji Matsuri), visit during late April, and don’t neglect the nightly illuminations as well.
The wisteria garden tunnels are short but pretty and the temple festival completes the experience. A very photogenic spot is the moon bridge, a highly arched pedestrian bridge that is typical for Japan gardenscaping.
If you cannot quite make it for Japanese wisteria blooming season but are there for the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, you can still admire the more than 300 plum trees from mid February-mid March. There even is a plum festival. And the food, naturally, is plum themed as well.
How to get to Kameido Tenjin Shrine from Tokyo
There are multiple stations that are located nearby the wisteria tunnels of Kameido Tenjin. One option is taking the Sobu Line to Kameido Station or Kinshicho Station and walking 15 minutes to the shrine. Another option is taking the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line to Kinshicho Station. Take the North Exit from there and walk for 15 minutes.
Address: 3 Chome-6-1 Kameido, Koto, Tokyo 136-0071
Kawachi Fuji-en Wisteria Garden near Fukuoka
Kawachi Fujien gets crazy during the peak wisteria season, so schedule in plenty of time and calm down your nerves. To even get into the park from April 21 to May 6, you have to purchase advance tickets, which you can get from Japanican (in English), 7-Eleven and Family Mart machines (starting March 15, in Japanese). Outside the peak season times, you can get your ticket at the park entrance.
Unlike Ashikaga Flower Park, the Kawachi Wisteria Garden (河内藤園, Kawachi Fujien) is a private garden but now publicly accessible. It simply had to be done because its two tunnels of around 100 metres each are too good to hide away. Trees you can see in the wisteria gardens range from white over pink to dark purple wisteria. You can walk inside the tunnels and then get a birdseye view from the hillside garden.
Entrance fee: 500 yen (advance tickets)
Opening hours: 8AM-6PM (mid April to mid May + mid November to early December)
How to get to Kawachi Fuji-en
During peak season, there will certainly be traffic jams and trains will be crowded. Be prepared to waste an hour or two. It’s normal. Try to stick to public transport. From Ueno or Tokyo Station, take the Yamanote Line to JR Yahata station and drive for 15 minutes to Kokura Station. It costs 280 yen one way.
Alternatively, you can take the shuttle bus from Yahata station between April 21 to May 6. Public bus routes to Kawachi Wisteria Garden run hourly from Yahata Station to Kamishigeta (上重田), which is the final stop. Take bus number 56. It takes 20 minutes and costs 260 yen one way. The subsequent walk to Kawachi Wisteria Garden takes up to an hour.
If you insist on driving, know that there are only 200 free parking lots available and you will most likely get stuck in a traffic jam. More slots are located near the Ajisainoyu bathhouse. From Fukuoka, you have to drive from Yahata IC or Kokura-minami IC along the Kyushu Expressway to Kawachi Wisteria Garden, which takes a little more than an hour and is also less jammed. From Kitakyushu in the North, the drive is much faster with only half an hour.
Address: 2 Chome-2-48 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi Ward, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture 805-0045
When is Wisteria Blooming Season?
Like with cherry blossoms in Japan, wisteria blooming season varies slightly from year to year. The best time to visit Japan for wisteria season, however, is middle of April to middle of May. Come as early as possible to avoid the crowds but don’t forget that you can also see the flowers lit up at night. I guess you really have to make a decision what is worth more to you: wisteria tunnels lit by sunlight without people or magically illuminated tunnels with crowds. If you can, avoid travelling through Golden Week at all costs. This is when all of Japan is off from school and work and everyone flocks to nearby attractions.
Are the Wisteria Gardens Worth Travelling for?
It’s always a tough question if you should arrange your travel plans around certain events that are not a hundred percent set in stone. The Japanese wisteria blooming season can be a tad fickle, which is difficult when you only have, say, two weeks in Japan. However, if you can arrange it that you are in Tokyo for a few days and close to or during peak season, then by all means, put this at the top of your Japan wishlist. The flowers are truly stunning and no other countries celebrates the wisteria gardens like Japan does.
Tell me: Is visiting the Japanese Wisteria part of your travel bucketlist? Which wisteria flower tunnel location is your fave?
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