Booking a flight to Japan can be challenging for those who want to witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms during springtime. Some might be lucky enough to get a flight in early to mid-April, just in time for sakura, but there are those who settle for late April to early May. But don’t worry if you miss sakura season, there are still other flowers to see in Japan!
One of the best places to see some of the most beautiful flowers in the country is Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク), which is located in Ashikaga City (足利市), Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県). It’s home to a variety of flowers, with wisteria, or fuji (藤) in Japanese, being its main attraction. The park is beautiful and worth visiting either day or night. Here are three things to do there during the bloom of wisteria!
1. See all the flowers
From mid-April to mid-May, you can witness four varieties of wisteria in full bloom — the famous 1,000-square-meter great wisteria trellis, the cherry blossom-colored pale red wisteria, the 80-meter long white wisteria tunnel, and the 80-meter long Kibana wisteria tunnel (which is the only one in Japan).
Apart from those, Ashikaga Flower Park has many other flowers for you to appreciate like petunia, rose, and azalea. All you need to do is to look around and discover them for yourself!
2. Visit the over 150-year-old wisteria tree
The oldest wisteria tree around the world is located in Ashikaga Flower Park. It’s not difficult to find since it’s the center of the great wisteria trellis. However, there’s a fence around it so you can’t go near it, but the distance is enough to see its beauty.
If you’ve brought a bento (packed lunch) with you, there are chairs and tables nearby for you to enjoy a meal with this beautiful scenery.
3. Buy wisteria ice cream and other wisteria-themed souvenirs
After roaming around under the sun, it’s highly recommended to buy a cone of wisteria ice cream to cool down. It has wisteria extract and is not that sweet, so it will suit most people’s taste buds.
If you want to buy a souvenir, you’ll see a lot of wisteria-themed food and merchandise at the entrance/exit of the park. There are candles, incense, decorations, candies, mochi (rice cake), and many more.
The entrance fees to Ashikaga Flower Park vary depending on the bloom of the flowers. But during the peak bloom of wisteria, from the middle of April to the end of May, the entrance fee to Ashikaga Flower Park is 900 to 1,700 yen for adults and 500 to 800 yen for children. You can expect the prices to be cheaper at other times of the year.
The park is open daily from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. except during the winter season (from the end of November to February) in which they have shorter hours from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. The only holidays of the park are on the first Wednesday and Thursday of February and on December 31st.
During the light-up period of The Great Wisteria Festival, however, they are open until 9 P.M. The night admission (from 5:30 P.M.) during this time is also cheaper at a price of 600 to 1,400 yen for adults and 300 to 700 yen for children.
Take the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line (湘南新宿線), the JR Utsunomiya Line (宇都宮線), or the JR Tohoku Shinkansen line (東北新幹線) from Tokyo Station (東京駅) to Oyama Station (小山駅). Get off and transfer to the JR Ryomo Line (両毛線) where you should alight at Tomita Station (富田駅), the station before Ashikaga Station (足利駅). From there, you need to walk for about 13 minutes.
Don’t worry about getting lost because, during the full bloom of wisterias, you’ll see many people going there as well. Follow the crowd and you’ll get there soon. Moreover, there are signs and street officers around the area to help you.
If you get hungry, there are stalls near the station that sell food and other items. Along the way, you’ll also encounter people selling hats so you won’t feel too hot while walking.
If you’re visiting Japan, let me assure you that a trip to Ashikaga Flower Park is something you shouldn’t miss regardless of the season! It’s a great experience to appreciate nature, especially different flowers in their full bloom.