You do not have to go all the way to the Netherlands just to see tulips when you can have it here in Japan, on the scenic island of Hokkaido (北海道). Hokkaido’s climate is well suited for tulips, lilacs, and many other attractive flowers. Nothing can spring emotions like a beautiful tulip flower which is usually used for love and wedding occasions. So where can you see tulips in Hokkaido? That would be at Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park (かみゆうべつチューリップ公園), situated in the Okhotsk region of Hokkaido, in the district of Monbetsu (紋別), in the small farming town of Kamiyubetsu (上湧別).
There are mainly two places in Japan which resemble the Netherlands, one is Huis Ten Bosch (ハウステンボス) in Nagasaki (長崎) and the other one is Kamiyubetsu in Hokkaido. Huis Ten Bosch is a fancy theme park recreating the Netherlands, whereas Kamiyubetsu reflects its climate and feel through its unique tulip farming.
It all started with the import of tulips into Japan from Europe in the late 19th century. However, mass cultivation of tulips started only in the mid-20th century when Europe saw a decline in tulip production. The farmers of Kamiyubetsu started planting tulips to encash the demand gap left by Europe. Japanese people saw tulips as a symbol of beauty, elegance, love, and peace. As it’s a high-income crop, tulip cultivation grew like rapid fire in the Kamiyubetsu region where the climate is perfect.
The Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park has an area of almost 12.5 hectares, filled with at least 200 varieties of tulips. The Tulip Fair (チューリップフェア) started in 1987 as an attempt to attract many people to the farming site which eventually became one of the biggest festivals in the region.
Tulips cannot be seen all year round as they blossom only in the months of May and early June when the climate is perfect. The Kamiyubetsu Tulip Fair starts on May 1 every year and continues for about five weeks. You can get to see nearly 1.2 million tulip bulbs of nearly 200 varieties spread along acres of land resembling the Netherlands in every direction.
The Kamiyubetsu Tulip Fair is a must-visit if you are looking for a cool spring event to attend in May. There is a place in the park from where you can buy a tulip for just 100 yen. Usually, the sales go up around May 20 when the flowers are in full bloom.
There are some unique names given to tulip varieties such as Don Quijote (ドンキホーテ), Zombie (ゾンビ), Mickey Mouse (ミッキーマウス), Lion King (ライオンキング), etc. You can take some cool photos as the fields are cropped in the shape of a heart and much more. There are also electric car facilities available for you if you want to tour around the farm.
There are plenty of other activities to do here during your trip at Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park like visiting the nearby Lake Saroma (サロマ湖) or relaxing at the Kamiyubetsu Onsen (かみゆうべつ温泉). Also, you can try some amazing mouth-watering food such as spring noodles and scallops. If you want to capture aerial photographs of the majestic tulip garden, you can even take helicopter rides.
Usually, the park entrance is free for small children, however, adults must pay around 500 yen. It takes about more than two hours from Asahikawa (旭川) to reach the nearest bus terminal, Engaru (遠軽). There are regular buses from Asahikawa to Engaru, from where it usually takes around 20 minutes to reach the park via a town bus.
The month of May witnesses a number of fairs and festivals related to flowers in Japan. If you happen to be in Hokkaido, do not miss this opportunity! A day trip would do just fine.