The Ultimate Guide to The Wisteria Tunnels of Japan
You may have seen photographs of that gorgeous garden of Wisteria or the Wisteria tunnels of Japan and wondered if this place exists on earth or not. The first time I ever saw a picture of these gardens, I gasped and exclaimed: “I HAVE to go there!” Lucky for me, both of these places happen to be in Japan.
Just to be clear, there are TWO main different Wisteria garden parks in Japan, not one. It seems half the pictures I come across cite the wrong garden or assume there’s just one garden of Wisteria. So here’s a peek into both Ashikaga Flower Park & Kawachi Fuji Gardens.
Traveling to both of these Wisteria gardens in Japan isn’t that hard, but it definitely requires some planning. However, only one of these has a wisteria tunnel.
Viewing Wisteria is one of my favorite things to do in Japan. Walking through these parks, one thing these photographs cannot capture is the incredibly beautiful smell of the garden. The scent is unreal.
In Japanese, Wisteria is actually called Fuji (藤) so you’ll hear this word used more often than Wisteria. Of course, these two places above are by no means the only spots to view Wisteria-trellis in Japan, but they are the most popular and the largest spots that I’ve found. The tree in the first picture is over 100 years old!
Depending on when you go in the season, the blooms always look different. I went in 2013 and snagged some great shots at Ashikaga of my favorite tree (the first picture on top of my blog), but then I returned this year at a different time and the scene looked completely different!! But there’s one important rule to remember when visiting these Wisteria parks: DON’T GO DURING GOLDEN WEEK!
Golden Week (GW) is a Japanese holiday where essentially the ENTIRE country of Japan goes on holiday to popular spots around the country. As a general rule, it’s wise to not plan any vacation in Japan during GW. If you think Japan ordinarily has a lot of people, wait until you see it during Golden Week!! But Golden Week runs through Wisteria blooming season, so just make sure you plan your trip around this most popular Japanese holiday.
Trust me, it’s a lot more fun to enjoy the park when there are fewer people. The dates for GW range between the end of April and early May. Be sure to check on it each year.
Viator offers a tour here that takes you to both Ashikaga Flower Park and to view the magical Hitachi Seaside Park. This is an awesome tour for people who want to maximize their trip, who love gardens, but are a little unsure about how to best get around Japan. The tour departs from Shinjuku and lunch is included!
Ashikaga Flower Park Tochigi, Japan
Ashikaga Flower Park
Time to Go Wisteria blooms once a year from the end of April through the middle of May.The first year, I went during the last week of April on April 26th (a few days before GW) and it was a bit under-bloomed, but it was still beautiful. I went this year on May 7th and I think there was more green. They were both nice times.
Varies on the season but it’s around 1,000 yen.
Hours9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Though during Wisteria season, they often keep the park open after 5:00 PM for a night-time viewing on certain nights.
Getting To Ashikaga Flower Park Use Hyperdia to input your designation to TOMITA STATION, depending on where you are leaving from. Without taking the Shinkansen, the trip is about 2 hours long. You will take the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line or JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Oyama and then transfer to the JR Ryomo Line to Tomita Station. Get off at Tomita Station and walk about 15 minutes to the park. You can’t miss it (or just follow where everyone else is going). It was really quite easy to get there. I never take the Shinkansen, but it’s a personal preference depending on time.
Or you can skip the train and book a day tour here from Tokyo.
Food There’s plenty of food in the park, but it’s mostly all Japanese-style foods such as soba, yakitori, etc. But don’t miss out on the Wisteria flavored ice-cream!!
Tips It’s a very large park, you can spend HOURS here!! If you’re going with a tour group, make sure they spend at LEAST 2 hours at this park, preferably more if you’re into photography. It’s probably better to go yourself if it’s less time. Heck, spend the day there, bring a hat, a book, and relax in the garden! Also, at Tomita station keep an eye out for coupons for the park.
The Wisteria Tunnel of Kawachi Fuji Garden Kitakyushu
Kawachi Fuji Garden
Tips to Remember
Kawachi Fuji Garden is in Kitakyushu but the locals there really don’t like to advertise this place. It was pretty hard myself to find information about when to go and apparently it’s for this reason. Kawachi is a smaller garden unlike Ashikaga, but it’s still impressive. However it’s mainly known for having the tunnel of Wisteria that’s ever so popular. The tunnel itself was really quite impressive and even longer than I ever thought it would be. And yes, the scent was like a fairytale. But here’s one thing. Everyone has seen that perfect picture of the tunnel without a single human being. But when you get there, it’s actually covered with people!! I made the huge mistake of not going early enough. If I had to do it over, I would have arrived around 7:30 or some time way before the park even opens. That way you’ll beat out the crowd for photographs.
Getting To The Wisteria Tunnel at Kawachi Fuji GardenUnlike Tokyo, this place requires you to fly to Kitakyushu. Although if you have a JR rail pass and don’t mind the longer journey, by all means save some money!! Your local hotel will be able to put you in a taxi that will take you right there. It’s a bit out of the way into the mountain-side but it only took about 30 minutes from Kokura.
Time to GoIt’s rather difficult to predict the perfect time to go but I went this year on May 2nd and it was actually too early. I think they said it was about 40% bloomed! I was a little saddened by this but as you can see, it’s a bit hard to tell because it’s still obviously very beautiful. But if you wait to go later in May, I’ve heard that the line to get into the park will be down the street. By all means, get there super early!!!
CostThe cost varies depending on how bloomed the Wisteria is. So if you go at full bloom, expect to pay around 2,000 yen.
HoursThe park hours are from around 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but that can change. It’s best to ask your hotel concierge to confirm this for you before you head to the park. But if you want to beat out the crowd, again get there early!!!
FoodActually, there’s not any food in the park but if you wander around the small town you’re bound to come across some local cafes like the one I stopped at.
After a morning at the park, we walked around and found this soba noodle house down the street and had a nice hot bowl of soba. So refreshing!! I really love Japanese-styled cafes. You almost feel like you’re at grandma’s house because they have such a traditional feel.
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