Everyone knows that spring is a great time to visit Japan for the cherry blossoms but few people realise that there are lots of other great flower festivals in and around Tokyo that are just as pretty as the sakura.
Kameido Tenjin is one of the best places to see Wisteria in Tokyo and is a beautiful temple to walk around any time of year with its drum bridges (which unfortunately are recreations as they were destroyed in the war) and ponds full of koi carp and turtles. The festival is on from mid-April to early May (2016’s dates are 16 April-5th May) with different varieties flowering at different times across the course of the festival. It’s free to enter and it’s even lit up at night so you can enjoy the beautiful hanging Wisteria at any time during the day.
There are lots of food stalls selling typical festival food and there was even a performing monkey when we visited. This festival does get busy so I would try to avoid visiting on weekends. It’s easy to access the temple as it is about a 15 min walk from Kameido Station (Sobu line) or Kinshicho Station (Sobu/Hanzomon line). A great place to combine with a visit to the nearby Skytree.
For more information visit here.
The Bunkyo Azalea Festival is another beautiful flower festival that runs from early April to early May (2016’s dates are 9th April-5th May). It is held at the Nezu Shrine and the azaleas are all found within a small strolling garden on the hillside which has a 200 yen admittance charge and is only open during the festival. There are over 100 varieties of Azaleas so you will see different coloured flowers depending on when you visit. The shrine itself is free to enter and features a path of torii gates right next to the azalea as well as many food and market stalls. This festival is quite popular so try to avoid arriving on weekends or during Golden Week. Nezu shrine is close to Ueno and Yanaka and is easily accessed from Nezu Station or Sendagi Station (Chiyoda line) and Todaimae Station (Namboku line).
For more information about the festival check here.
Shibazakura is another name for a plant called moss phlox that carpet the ground with pink and white flowers from mid-April to late May (2016’s dates are 16th April-29th May) at Fuji Motosuko Resort. This festival also incorporates a food festival where you can try lots of local specialties. With its backdrop of Mount Fuji, the festival can get especially busy on weekends and during Golden Week. The admission fee is 600 yen for adults and 250 yen for children and the festival grounds have over 800,000 individual plants. This festival is a little further away from Tokyo with it taking about 2 and 1/2 hours from Shinjuku to get to the festival site by public transit or you could go on a bus tour and combine it with a visit to Mt Fuji.
Showa Kinen Koen is a large suburban park found in Tachikawa just 30 minutes to the west of Shinjuku. This park is home to a flower festival that runs over two months from mid-March to mid-May (2016’s dates are March 17th-May 22nd) with different flowers in bloom across the course of the festival. One of the main highlights other than the sakura is the tulip season in mid-April but it is a beautiful garden to visit at any time in the spring. There is also a range of different events across the course of the festival including concerts and workshops. The cost to enter the garden is 410 yen for adults and 80 yen for children but there are also some free dates throughout the festival. Showa Kinen Park is just a 10 min walk from Tachikawa station on the Chuo line so is an easy day trip from central Tokyo.
Kyu Furukawa Teien is a garden with a western style house that used to belong to the Furukawa Family. The gardens are home to both a Japanese-style garden and a Western-style rose garden. During spring and autumn, the roses come into bloom and there is a festival within the grounds. The spring festival runs from mid-May to mid-June (2016’s dates are 3rd May-31st May) and includes concerts on the weekends as well some nights where the roses are illuminated. The admission charge is just 150 yen and the gardens can easily be accessed by a 7 min walk from Kami-Nakasato Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) or Nishigahara Station (Namboku Line).
Even if the sakura have already finished blossoming (or will soon be gone depending on your location) don’t worry! There are still plenty of gorgeous flowers to see in the spring! Which of these locations would you like to visit?