The Shibazakura (Lawn Cherry) Festival was always something I had wondered about. In all my three experience in Japan, I had not even set foot at the festival. This year came around and I put my foot down. It was now time to visit the famous Shibazakura Festival.
I chose to head to the festival slightly early, so as not to spoil my readers too much. I wasn't disappointed. When I arrived at the train station in Kawaguchiko, it was to my surprise to see a part of Mount Fuji peeping through the clouds.
I bought my bus tickets and headed to the bus stop. All the way to the festival, I was greeted by the site of Mount Fuji trying to say hello through the clouds.
When you arrive at the festival, you have to get your ticket exchanged at the ticket counter. Then you can enter the festival. After getting my ticket exchanged, I picked up a map (which also had coupons on the back), and headed towards certain points.
I went to the Ryujin-ike pond. Ryujin-ike translates literally into dragon pond. It's called Ryujin-ike because it's believed that a dragon used to live in Lake Motsu. When Mount Fuji exploded, the dragon saved all the villagers lives. On a clear day, the blue skies would enhance the beauty of the sight you see.
The flowers are called Moss Phlox flowers. It belongs to the Polemoniaceae family. They vary in colour, and they planted around 800,000 flowers every year. They are all arranged in a certain format to make vast strips of colours. They smell beautiful, and they were about fifty percent in bloom when I was there.
If you walk around the festival, you can try and take snaps of Mount Fuji in the background. They have even set up certain vantage points, where you can take snaps of the Moss Phlox with a mini Mount Fuji, and the real Mount Fuji. They also offer professional picture snaps for about ¥2,000.
If you start to feel hungry, you could head towards the food stands where they serve cheap hot food, and food specials that are associated with the area. You can head towards the Mount Fuji Gourmet Food Festival and eat Fujinomiya Yakisoba, and Yoshida Udon. The average meal is about ¥600.
If you don't want a meal, then you could go to the Panorama Café and indulge in the Sakura flavoured treats that they have on sale there.
If your feet get cold, you can pay to have a Panorama Footbath for ¥100. You can sit with your feet in this hot bath and take in the view of Mount Fuji.
Once you have finished taking in the glory of the flowers and Mount Fuji, you can head towards the souvenir shops. The souvenir shops are inexpensive. I was able to buy some limited edition Shibazakura flavoured treats there. I bought Shibazakura Mochi for ¥600 and Shibazakura flavoured soba for ¥700. The soba is not sealed, so you can't take it on your flight home. I also bought a fridge magnet for ¥400.
If you have time, there is also a festival called the Heavenly Tulip Festival that is running nearby. You would have to head back to the bus station at Kawaguchiko to be able to travel there easily. It runs from April 16th – May 29th. It costs ¥1,200.
I was sad that I couldn't get the picture of Mount Fuji that I had longed for. I went back to the bus and it left the car park. As I was editing my travel vlog on the bus, the reflection in my iPad became apparent. I looked up, and low and behold, Mount Fuji had finally given in to me and graced its presence.
The Shibazakura Festival runs from April 16th – May 29th. You will need to check in advance if they have made any changes. It opens at 8:00am and closes at 5:00pm. If you choose to not take the inclusive round trip on the bus, then the entrance fee alone is ¥600 for adults and ¥250 for children.
In order to get to the festival, there are several ways. The best way to travel is via train. If you have the JR pass, then that is definitely the best way. You can take the Shinkansen Azuza or Kaiji from Shinjuku and go to Otsuki, and from Otsuki you can take the Fujikyu Express, Fujisan View Express (with inquiry made), and Fujisan Express (also via inquiry). You can also take JR Chuo Line to Otsuki. There are also trains going from Chiba, Tachikawa, and Narita Airport. However, you should research into those train dates and times. When you get to Otsuki, take a train to Kawaguchiko station. If you don't have a JR pass, the train will cost about ¥2,460 for a single journey.
NOTE: If you are traveling on a weekend, then trains from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko Station are very limited.
When you arrive at Kawaguchiko station, head to bus stop 7. There you can buy a round trip discount ticket for ¥2,000. This covers the cost of travel to and from the festival, and your entrance ticket.