Many kinds of flowers grow on Japan’s land and one of them is the Japanese iris in its beautiful shades of blue and purple. See the full bloom of iris flowers that blanket select parks and gardens in Japan at these four iris festivals!
Itako City (潮来市) in Ibaraki Prefecture (茨城県) is popular for its annual iris festival which takes places at the Maekawa Iris Garden (前川あやめ園). The festival started in 1952 and will have its 66th run this 2017. Over a million irises of 500 different varieties bloom in Itako and its peak is around June 10.
Aside from appreciating the irises, another highlight of this festival is seeing the traditional wedding procession by the river. This is an Itako custom of having the bride marry into her new family by boat. Witness this ceremony on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the festival.
The iris garden is a short walk from Itako Station, which is accessible by train:
- From Narita (成田), take the JR Narita Line for Choshi (銚子). Alight at Sawara Station (佐原駅) and take the JR Kashima Line (鹿島線) for Kashimajingu (鹿島神宮) and get off at Itako Station (潮来駅). This route takes about 47 minutes.
- From Tokyo (東京), take the JR Sobu Line (総武) for Narita, then follow the above route. With two transfers, this second route takes around 131 minutes.
In Tokyo, Katsushika (葛飾区) also has its own iris festival that takes place at the Horikiri Iris Garden (堀切菖蒲園), where 6,000 irises of 200 kinds bloom, and at the Mizumoto Park (水元公園), where 14,000 irises of 100 kinds bloom. Live music performances and other events also take place during the festival, so make sure to visit the city website for the schedule!
Katsushika is accessible from Tokyo through a 30-minute train ride. From Tokyo Station, take the JR Yamanote Line (山手線) Inner Loop for Ueno (上野) or Tsuchiura (土浦) and get off at Nippori (日暮里). Then, take the Keisei Main Line (京成本線) Local Service for Keisei-Tsudanuma (京成津田沼) and get off at Horikirishobuen Station (堀切菖蒲園).
At Agano City (阿賀野市) in Niigata Prefecture (新潟県), over 500,000 irises of 215 varieties bloom at the Lake Hyoko Iris Garden (瓢湖あやめ園). Stroll around the garden and look at the lantern lighting and exhibits that are also held during the festival.
The garden is a 5-minute car ride from the JR Suibara Station (水原駅). If you are coming from Tokyo, take the Shinkansen (新幹線) Max Toki (Maxとき) to Niigata Station (新潟駅). From Niigata, take the JR Shinetsu Line (信越線) for Nagaoka (長岡) to reach Niitsu Station (新津駅). Then, take the JR Uetsu Line (羽越) for Shibata (新発田) from Niitsu Station to Suibara Station. This route will take around 172 minutes.
Suigetsu Park in Ikeda City (池田市), Osaka Prefecture (大阪府) will host an iris festival on June 10 to 11, 2017, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Around 6,000 irises of 60 kinds are expected to bloom. An open-air tea ceremony and other events are also held during the festival.
From Tokyo, take a Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka (新大阪), then take the JR Kyoto Line Rapid Service (京都線快速) for Kakogawa (加古川) to Osaka. Take a short walk to Hankyu Umeda Station (阪急梅田駅) and take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line Express (阪急宝塚線急行) for Takarazuka (宝塚) to reach Ishibashi Station (石橋駅). From there, take a Hankyu (阪急) bus and get off at the Hachizuka (鉢塚) Bus Stop. Suigetsu Park is 5 minutes away from the bus stop.
Enjoy the picturesque view of irises in full bloom at these iris festivals in Japan! You will also learn local traditions and customs by visiting these gardens and parks.