As the weather gets warmer and it starts to feel more like spring, we know it is the season of sakura (cherry blossoms). During sakura season, many tourists from all around the world visit Japan to enjoy the beauty of this iconic flower which has become the symbol of spring in Japan. However, not every tourist will enjoy its beauty because the sakura will bloom for only one to two weeks. After that, shibazakura is another great alternative to enjoy the beauty of spring in Japan.
One of the most famous regions to enjoy shibazakura is near Mt. Fuji, but traveling to this area can be quite costly and time-consuming. Therefore, last year I decided to look for another place near Tokyo to enjoy the beauty of Shibazakura and discovered the beautiful Hitsujiyama Park in Saitama.
So, if you are also considering finding another place to enjoy the beauty of Shibazakura away from Mt. Fuji, then read more about my personal experiences in Saitama.
With the existence of more than 500 types of sakura in Japan, not many know about Shibazakura or Moss Phlox in English. From what the name suggests, you may think that Shibazakura is just another type of sakura. This may be true but Shibazakura is not strictly categorized into a type of sakura.
Shibazakura can be literally translated as ‘Cherry Lawn’ as the flowers cover the ground like a lawn. Also, its pink colors (resembling cherry blossoms) cover the entire ground creating a vast pink carpet resulting in a breathtaking experience that should not be missed!
Typically Shibazakura can be seen from around early April to early June. However, in Hitsujiyama Park, it can be viewed from early April to early May. There may be a slight difference in dates every year, but if you want to use your golden week holiday to see Shibazakura, then that is the best time!
Hitsujiyama Park (literally means Sheep Mountain Park) is located in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture. There are three stations near the park: Seibu-Chichibu, Yokoze, and JR Chichibu Stations. Based on my experience, I took the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Express from Ikebukuro Station to Hanno Station, then at Hanno I transferred to Seibu Ikebukuro Line towards Seibu-Chichibu Station. It took around 90 minutes in total from Ikebukuro Station to Seibu-Chichibu Station.
If you prefer a faster route, you can also take the special express train from Ikebukuro Station but this will cost you around 1,400 yen one way.
It takes around 20 minutes to walk from any of those stations to the entrance of the park. If you don’t want to walk, you can take a bus or rent a bicycle from a rental shop near the stations. However, there are not many bicycles available, so get in quick!
Hitsujiyama Park is famous for its Shibazakura Hills. About 400,000 Shibazakura are in full bloom from early April to early May on a hill with approximately 17,600 square meters in size. Moreover, there are also around 1,000 Sakura trees, including yoshino cherry, weeping cherry, and double petal cherry trees that will be in full bloom in April.
Other than that, in this park, you can also see horse and sheep (as the name suggests). This park is also great families with young children too as you can feed the horse and sheep after strolling through the park and enjoying the beauty of Shibazakura.
There are also plenty of other sight-seeing spots around the Chichibu area such as traditional shrines, delicious food, and great souvenir shops to buy gifts for friends and family back home!
Opening time: From Mid April to early May 8 am – 5 pm
Entrance fee: 300 yen (free for visitor under 15 years old)
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