Summer Lotus Tour in Miyagi
In verdant Miyagi, the yearly Lotus Festival of Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma has just begun! Located on an interconnected lake between Tome and Kurihara City, you can enjoy a romantic boat-ride tour through thousands of lotuses, led by local fishermen who know the lake inside and out. Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma is surrounded by rice fields in the Senhoku Plain and is well known by nature-lovers in Miyagi. It’s internationally recognized as a natural monument and Japan’s second Ramsar site for its birdlife and wetland habitat. In the winter, it is known for the beautiful sounds of white-fronted geese and the breathtaking sight of flocks of them taking off in the early morning. But, in summer, a flood of flowering lotuses spills out across the lake, nearly covering the whole surface. So, come and see the starry pink flowers dotting the blue and green horizon and listen to the serenity of nature!
The “numa” of the lake name is an old Japanese word for “swamp,” which would normally evoke pictures of muck, grime, and science fiction monsters, but this lake defies those expectations entirely! Gorgeous bursts of light and bright pink pop up from the surface of vibrant green leaves. The leaves and sky reflect emerald greens and creamy blues in the lake beneath the flowers. And while you can observe the flowers from afar on walking trails and nearby roads, the best experience comes from this 30 minute boat tour. The fishermen whisk you through the center of the lake to behold the spectacular flowers, pausing every so often for the most picturesque moments. Snap countless pictures of Indian lotuses and, if you’re lucky, colorful dragonflies!
As relaxing as the boat ride is, there are several points during the tour where you can interact. For instance, did you know that lotus seeds are edible? They have a light, flowery, nutty flavor that you are unlikely to experience anywhere else outside this tour! You can see firsthand as your tour guide harvests a lotus flower and demonstrates the various historical uses of the plant, from its use in textiles to ancient waterproof attire. When I visited last year, my friend helped translate the guide’s complicated explanations into English, so bringing a Japanese-speaker is recommended if you want to make the most of your experience. Even so, the tour is very hands-on and easy to understand just by demonstration.
Tours run from morning to early afternoon, but because of the last bit of the rainy season, they are subject to early closures. The best times to see the flowers are the early morning anyway when skies are most likely to be clear and sunny. But in the case of light showers, don’t worry! The boats are covered, providing not only shade from the summer sun but a shield from any falling raindrops.
To learn more about the nearly 1,000 species of wildlife in the area, visit the nearby Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma Sanctuary Center. The building is reminiscent of a flying swan and is home to many exhibits on the biodiversity of the lake. Most exhibits feature English translations as well. At the Sanctuary Center, you can also see the flowers from a new perspective through binoculars in the main lounge. It features floor-to-ceiling windows for a panoramic view. Also available around the lake is a Nature Experience Course to learn more about the wonders of nature.
Dates: July 20, 2019 ~ August 31, 2019
Times: 8AM ~ 4PM (duration: 30 minutes)
Prices: 700 yen for adults, 400 yen for children, discounts for groups of 20
Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma: Hasamachonitta, Tome, Miyagi 989-4601
Sanctuary Center: Kamihataoka Shikimi-17-2 Wakayanagi, Kurihara-shi, Miyagi-ken 987-2200