Niigata has spoiled me with its dynamic floral colors throughout the year. Quickly after the cherry blossoms’ bloom in April, tulips, roses and hydrangea–to name a few–will poke their heads out to make sure we humans appreciate their elegant silhouettes. In particular, I will never forget the abundance of romantic colors from the Rose Festival at Echigo Hillside Park in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture.
Echigo Hillside Park has an enormous size of 120 hectares, which is more than twice the size of Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Every year from February to October, the Hillside Park holds various flower festivals, whereas snow activities and illumination events are held from November to late January.
Where do I even start?
I first visited this gigantic park in June 2017 for its Rose Festival. I didn’t know what to expect before I went, but was already enchanted by the rose market near the park entrance. The roses there came from all around the world and were blooming in a variety of colors. There were cute accessories for sale too and I couldn’t help but notice how many couples were around me.
The park is divided into many sections. Visitors can easily spend a few hours walking through the whole park, which is consisted of a flower promenade, numerous gardens, a flower tunnel, and a voting area for visitors’ favorite rose breeds.
Vote for your favorite breed!
The park’s roses come in packs; a big patch of red here and a big patch of white there. The petals of the roses are made up of so many layers and visitors are welcome to get close with the roses and take as many pictures as they fancy. But unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get a “perfect” picture because there was always a more beautiful rose than the one I just saw!
Roses here are more than just crimson red.
Yellow mixed with pink?
There were roses in pink, yellow, orange, white, red, purple, even blue. Colors come in different shades, making their beauty subtly different from each other. What’s more is that the roses even come in different shapes; while you’ll see some original outward-curling petals, you’ll also see roses shaped like balls! Some flowers were as big as my face.
My first time seeing ball-like roses.
Roses as big as my face.
When I was at the Rose Festival, I felt an urge inside me pushing me to just run around the park like a little child. I kept running but the line of roses would never cease. For a good few minutes I simply soaked in all the vibrant, romantic colors around me. There are fountains and picnicking areas too so my friends and I sat down for a rest and chatted about our favorite rose breeds.
At the park cafe, you will also find long lines waiting to get hold of some rose-flavored ice cream. The ice cream is just at the right level of sweetness and will leave you with a fresh aftertaste. It is probably the best treat during Niigata’s early summer season.
Give your visit a perfect finish with this rose-flavored ice cream.
Thanks to this festival, the June 2017 part of the camera roll on my phone now is extremely colorful. I hope that yours will be, too!
April: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
May to August: 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
September, October: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
November to March: 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
The Rose Festival goes from late May to mid-June every year.
¥410 for adults, ¥80 for children up to junior high school, and ¥210 for senior visitors.
1921 Miyamoto Higashikata-machi, Nagaoka City
- By car: If you’re coming by Kanetsu or Hokuriku Highway, exit at Nagaoka Interchange and head for Kashiwazaki on Route 8 for 10 minutes. Plenty of parking available at the park.
- By bus from Nagaoka Station: Take the New Town line via Sekihara. Get on at Nagaoka Station Ote exit (Platform 6) and get off at Echigo Hillside Park car park. It takes about 36 minutes.