Summer in Japan offers a lot for the senses as you take in the sights of blossoming flower fields, sample delicious in-season cuisine, and have fun at colorful and lively local festivals. If you are in Tokyo during this season, how about heading to the largest sunflower field within the prefecture for a day of fun amid the bright yellow hues of summer?
Kiyose Sunflower Festival (清瀬ひまわりフェスティバル / Kiyose Himawari Festival), which began in 2008, will be held for the 10th time this 2017 from 19 August to 3 September, from 9 AM to 4 PM. Preparations for the festival begin in late June annually whereby local primary school students plant sunflower seeds in a vast field spanning 24,000 square meters. As such, by the time the flowers bloom, you will find yourself surrounded by around 100,000 stalks of sunflowers which will be a grand sight to behold.
Truth be told, the sunflowers were not originally planted for aesthetic purposes. The field where the sunflowers are planted is actually agricultural land belonging to two farms, i.e. Ishii Farm and Kodera Farm, and is used to grow wheat. However, between the time when the wheat is harvested and the next seed planting activity, sunflowers are grown so that they become a source of natural fertilizers for the wheat crops. Thanks to the farms opening up the field to public access during this particular period, it has helped Kiyose develop its reputation for being a must-visit summer spot to see sunflowers in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.
Besides admiring the beautiful sunflower field for free, there are various activities and offers related to this festival which you may want to take note of:
- For those who want to show their artistic flair, you may consider taking part in the photo or drawing competitions going on during the festival. Details on the competitions will have to be obtained by calling the Kiyose City Office at (042) 492-5111. Winners will be awarded their prizes during a ceremony held on 14 October 2017, while the winning works will be exhibited at the Lifelong Learning Center’s 5th floor between 14 October and 22 October 2017.
- For those who are interested in local specialties, do head to the agricultural products fair where you can check out the best and freshest produce from nearby farms or buy cut sunflower stalks to bring home. As Kiyose is a well-known producer of carrots, there is a wide variety of carrot-related products here such as carrot jam, carrot shochu, carrot lotion, and carrot soap, which is bound to be an eye-opener for you!
- For those into social media and have an Instagram account, be sure to follow the event’s official Instagram account in collaboration with Seibu Railway (＠seibu_hanasanpo), and post a photo taken at the festival. Once you have done that, show this to the staff at the Hanasanpo Station where you will receive a limited edition souvenir only available during the festival days. Note that the availability of the souvenir is on a while-stocks-last basis.
- If you would like to receive a specially-made memorabilia for this event, you should head to the Cheki photo-taking booth at the festival where 500 groups of visitors per day can get an instant photo taken for free between 10 AM and 3 PM. The photo will then be mounted onto the festival’s specially-designed cardboard for you to bring home as a memento. Note that if the weather conditions are not favorable, this activity may be canceled without prior notice. Again, the availability of this memento is on a while-stocks-last basis.
- If you are taking the Seibu Chichibu Line to get to Kiyose Station (清瀬駅), be sure to download and print this discount coupon (Japanese only) which can be used to get 20 yen off a 500mL bottle of Crystal Geyser mineral water at 10 TOMONY convenience stores located at these stations on the line:
- Ikebukuro Station (池袋駅)
- Nerima Station (練馬駅)
- Kiyose Station
- Tokorozawa Station (所沢駅)
- Hanno Station (飯能駅)
- Seibu Shinjuku Station (西武新宿駅)
- Takadanobaba Station (高田馬場駅)
- Honkawagoe Station (本川越駅)
- Kokubunji Station (国分寺駅)
- Haijima Station (拝島駅)
Note that credit card payment is not accepted for this purchase and more details about this promotion can be found here (Japanese only).
- Last but not least, if you are heading to Mitsui Outlet Park in Iruma City, be sure to head to the information counter on the 1st floor of Forest Lounge. By presenting a photo taken at the festival and a receipt of your spending at Mitsui Outlet Park (no minimum spending required), you can get a RHODIA notebook with an orange or black cover. Note that there are only 400 of these notebooks and you will not be able to choose the color. Again, these are given on a first-come-first-served basis between 19 August and 10 September 2017 so this promotion may end earlier if the stocks run out.
If you are taking a train on the Seibu Chichibu Line, you can go straight to Kiyose Station. Once you alight at this station, the recommended mode of transport to get to the festival grounds is by bus. If you are visiting on a weekday, take these local buses from the north exit of the train station:
- Kiyo No. 61 heading to the south exit of Shiki Station (清61系統 志木駅南口行き)
- Kiyo No. 61-1 heading to Niiza Bus Interchange (清61-1系統 新座営業所行き)
- Kiyo No. 61-2 heading to Naka Kiyoto Higashi (清61-2系統 中清戸東行き)
After getting off at the Green Town Kiyoto bus stop, the festival venue is just a six-minute walk away.
If you are visiting on a weekend, you can take advantage of the free shuttle bus which departs from the north exit of the train station and ends at the entrance of Community Plaza Himawari. It will take a seven-minute walk from here to the festival venue, and buses come at intervals of 20 to 30 minutes.
If you are feeling adventurous and don’t mind walking in the summer heat, do note though that the venue is a good 35-minute walk from the train station.
Before visiting the festival, be sure to guard against dehydration by having regular intakes of water, especially since the venue has little to no shade for you to take cover against the hot sun. Clothing and footwear should also be suitable for walking in the field. Pets are also strictly prohibited from entering the field.
Now that you’ve learned so much about Kiyose Sunflower Festival, how about making plans to see these lovely yellow beauties basking in the sunshine and enjoy the events taking place on the sidelines while you are there?
Kiyose Sunflower Festival Website *Japanese only