Not everyone is lucky enough to see the cherry blossoms in Japan as its flowering season is quite fast and the forecast is sometimes a little off. At the end of April and during the first week of May, you can only spot sakura in the farther northern regions of the country, particularly in Hokkaido. However, there is no need to worry as there are more surprises coming. If you are in Japan from mid-May to early June, catch the bright red hues of enticing poppy flowers that invade certain regions of Japan, thus bringing the charm back!
We all can agree on the fact that cherry blossoms attract more number of people than any other flower in Japan due to a variety of reasons. Usually, spring flowers get a lot of attention as they bring back life to the land after the harsh and cold winter. Many cultures celebrate the onset of spring with a lot of unique festivals, and Japan has “hanami,” where people step outdoors to see the beauty of rosy sakura blossoms.
Also, there are specific scientific reasons as to why sakura flowers attract crowds when you take other similar spring blossoms into comparison, many of them belong to the same family or genus as sakura, for example, the plum or peach. One reason is the unique outline of the sakura petal, and another is its alignment and contrast that makes them appear more majestic than plum or peach.
As the sakura season fades away by early May, other spring flowers such as poppies take over the throne. However, because these flowers are only grown in a few places, unlike sakura that blooms all over the country, not much attention is paid. Poppies are widely known not only as a sedative source but also as a symbol of peace and remembrance. People use them for food and even as a decoration on lapels, especially in Canada, the UK, and other Anglo-Saxon and Commonwealth countries, to remember the sacrifices of soldiers in the wars.
As many people enter Japan through its capital, Tokyo, let’s have a look at the biggest park or garden nearby where you can see poppies. Inside the city, it is very difficult to spot poppies as they grow mostly on the rural side. So if you are looking for a calm yet interesting region with bountiful things to explore, you should check out Chichibu in the neighboring prefecture of Saitama. Nature lovers may already know Chichibu as a serene and refreshing place close to the capital.
In Chichibu is a highland called Chichibu Kogen Bokujo where you can see not only flowers but also rabbits, sheep, and other farm animals. The area’s number of visitors has been increasing ever since it was promoted as one of the best poppy sites in Japan.
This 2018, you can capture the crimson beauty of the poppy flowers at Chichibu Kogen Bokujo’s Tenku no Poppy (literally “Sky of Poppies”) from May 19 to June 8. Explore the farm’s 12.4-acre flower zone, where nearly 15 million poppies belonging to the hybridized group “Shirley” emit their hues. Most of the poppies here are red, however, you can find some white and rosy ones in the middle of the field, too.
The best time to see the poppies is definitely during the sunrise and sunset as the skies turn red, making the whole floral bed much more appealing.
Reaching Chichibu Kogen Bokujo from Tokyo is very easy as you can take a train on the lines that head to Saitama, such as the Chichibu Main Line. Just approximately two hours of riding on the train, you should see yourself exiting at Minano Station, which is the main destination for poppy lovers.
If you are adventurous, you can walk up to the farm from the aforementioned station; however, taking a local bus will save time. It could take a lot of time to completely explore the farm due to its large size. Do note that there is a small entrance fee of 300 yen for adults to witness the poppies, while elementary school students and younger are free. Also, take note of the bus schedule here (Japanese only), as buses are not available throughout the day.
If you are wondering how a poppy farm looks like and have a craving for more floral sights, you should not miss Chichibu Kogen Bokujo in Saitama. The place is very beautiful, well maintained, and will surely make you forget about missing the cherry blossoms!
Tenku no Poppy Website *Japanese only