The Ashikaga Flower Park is one of the most famous parks of its kind in the world. It was selected by CNN as one of the top nine international dream destinations in 2014, and for good reason, as it has something remarkably alluring to offer for each of Japan’s four seasons. Long-stemmed tulips, brightly colored hydrangea, dense rows of rose bushes, and the famous, looming wisteria are just a few of the featured flowers that are highlighted over the course of the year. But you don’t need to be a connoisseur to enjoy the park. It is an impressive sight for anyone.
Photo : panina.anna on Flickr
While the park is filled with a wide variety of flowers, its centerpiece is undoubtedly Japan’s largest wisteria tree. From late April to early may, the vivid, purple blossoms of this nearly 150 year old tree expand over half an acre of the park. CNN recently suggested that the famed wisteria looked to be the inspiration for the Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s hit movie, “Avatar”. The park also has an abundance of yellow, red, and white wisteria that bloom during the same time. They hang delicately from trellises constructed over the walking paths.
Photo : Takashi Hososhima on Flickr
Even in the winter there is something beautiful to be seen at the Ashikaga Flower Park. During this time, the park pays tribute to its flora with an illumination that spans the entire length of its dormant gardens. This display, titled “Flower Fantasy”, ranges from illuminated Christmas scenes to dangling faux wisteria. Park-goers can enjoy a warm hot chocolate on a cold night as they stroll throughout the flashing wonderland.
Photo : Hetarllen Mumriken on Flickr
In the twenty or so minutes it takes to walk around the park, you’ll experience an amplified version of whatever season you happen to be visiting in. The park is bursting with life and laughter as people from all over the world come together to enjoy the extraordinary gardens. You’ll find that walking through the Ashikaga Flower Park is an example of Japan’s respect for and preservation of nature.
Photo : ★Kumiko★ on Flickr
Where to Eat
There is no need to search for a restaurant in the surrounding area, as the flower park has many options to choose from. Ramen, karaage, and fried potatoes are available if you wish to have a quick meal, but there is also a restaurant for those who would rather sit down to more options. Occasionally, a Brazilian food truck is set up at the park and you can sample delicious Brazilian sandwiches. On warmer days, you can enjoy a wisteria-flavored ice cream, a treat you will not be able to find anywhere else.
Photo : Hideya HAMANO on Flickr
Hours, Cost, and Getting There
The park is open 9:00 to 6:00 from March to late November, and 10:00 to 5:00 from late November to February. The Winter Illumination lasts from early December through early February and during that time the park will be open until 9:00 PM. It is closed on the first Wednesday and Thursday of February, and on December 31.
The entrance fee can be as little as 300 yen, but you can expect to pay 1700 yen in the high season when the Wisteria is fully in bloom (April 18th to May 17th).
From Tokyo station, take the JR Yamanote line to Ueno. Then, transfer to the JR Utstunomiya line to Oyama. Make one final transfer in Oyama to the JR Ryomo line. Take this train to Tomita station. Take a right out of the station and it is roughly a fifteen walk to the park. After you cross the bridge, there will be signs leading you to the park. A slightly more expensive, but faster, option would be to take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Oyama, and then the JR Ryomo line to Tomita.