Sakura season in Japan is an amazing time to go to “hanami” a flower viewing party. The season usually lasts from late March to mid April depending on where you are in Japan. It is possible to see some late blooming varieties around Tokyo or Kyoto into mid-April and to catch the start of the season up until May in more northern parts of Japan. However if you are visiting later in the year or during the summer the sakura trees will be covered in beautiful leaves instead of the light blossoms for hanami. If you are a flower lover do not despair, there are many more varietites and displays of flowers you can view throughout the year across Japan. l will show some places to go and flowers you can see from June to September.
The iris is a wet land loving plant which blooms through out Japan and that has been growing there for over 500 years. There are actually three main forms which are divided depending where in Japan they are cultivated; Tokyo, Kumamoto prefecture or Mie prefecture. Iris were initially planted around the Tokyo area 300 years ago to encourage people to picnic with the flowers, their own hanami! The iris’ usually bloom starting in the middle of June so this is a good time to visit some of the gardens which grow them. Two great places to visit are the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo, on the walk to the shrine there is a garden (Meiji Jingu Gyoen) built for the Empress Shoken, there is a small entrance fee for the garden but it is beautifully designed, and contains some beautiful specimen of Iris to be viewed throughout June in bloom. Odawara Caslte in Kanagawa prefecture has some lovely tended gardens around the castle, this includes a wet land where Iris grow and can be viewed in bloom in mid to late June.
Hydrangea are a flowering shrub plant which is native to eastern and southern Asia, including Japan. Hydrangea are a fascinating plant for flowering and the flowers themselves can be changed in colour depending on the acidity of the surrounding soil, from white blooms to pink, purple, blue and even red. In Japan hydrangea are known as “Ajisai”. The hydrangea bloom from early June and there are many gardens and areas in Japan where these can be viewed. The photo above is taken at Odawara Caslte, so not only can you see iris in bloom but also a variety of colours of hydrangea. Other places to see hydrangea in bloom are the Imperial Palace in Tokyo which has some lovely winding paths bordered by hydrangea and also the shrines and gardens in Kamakura.
The lotus is a quintessential flower of Japan and has been used as aspects of traditional Japanese gardens for many years as an aspect of what is sacred in Buddhism. The lotus are a wetland plant are are grown in ponds and lakes. In Tokyo itself there are several places to go and view lotus while they are in bloom through late August and even early September. The moat surrounding Tokyo Imperial Palace in bursting with lotus plants and blossoms in late summer, and is quite a sight to behold. Ueno park also has a large lake which is planted with lotus blossom.
If you are more interested in wild or meadow flowers and plants then there are also places to visit to see these flowers with a gorgeous view. Lake Sai-ko of the Fuji Five Lakes area is surrounded by stunning wild flowers including Cosmos, which given its small size is surprisingly part of the sunflower family. The cosmos flower in August but can bloom for weeks at a time so there are many opportunities in the month to view them. If you are in the area of the five lakes and enjoy flower viewing the Hana-no-Miyako-Koen Flower Park is just a short distance from Yamanaka lake.
If you miss the cherry blossom season do not despair, Japan is home to many beautiful flowering plants which are also easily accessible from cities such as Tokyo!