Ashikaga Flower Park 足利フラワーパーク
Ashikaga Flower Park is a park of about 9 hectares (23 acres) that showcases the beauty of mainly wisteria (fuji) as well as many other flowers. It is the most famous attraction in the city of Ashikaga in Tochigi prefecture, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours from Tokyo.
Fuji, or wisteria, is native to China, Japan and the eastern United States, and plays a big role in Japanese culture. The kanji for fuji (藤) appears in many common family names, the wisteria flower features in many family crests, and fuji-musume, or "Wisteria Daughter," is a time-honored theme of Japanese painting and drama, specifically kabuki.
Ashikaga Flower Park has more than 350 wisterias, at their peak in spring when the Park's variable entry fee is the highest. The most memorable displays are the wisteria tunnels up to 80 m (87 yards) long that the visitor walks through enjoying the beauty of the pendulous racemes from below. There are various colors of wisteria to be seen, such as pink, purple, blue, and white--lavender being the most plentiful when flowering.
Great Miracle Wisteria
The "Great Miracle Wisteria" is the Park's pride and joy: a huge, sprawling wisteria that is over 140 years old, located right in the middle of Ashikaga Flower Park. The gnarled trunk makes for a picturesque contrast with the luxuriant blossom that hangs in countless mauve strands above the visitor's head. It is lit up after nightfall.
Other wisteria displays include domes, pyramids, hillocks, arches, a waterfall and a huge screen over which wisteria climbs, making for a multifarious experience of this multicolored floral spectacle.
Several ponds in the park add to the beauty by reflecting the blooms, and allow visitors to explore via walking bridges across the water.
Wisteria flowers between mid-April and mid-May. There are numerous other floral attractions, too, featuring hundreds of species to delight the visitor at any time of the year. For example, the Rainbow Garden in particular features masses of various roses. The Blue and White Garden features hydrangea, iris, and late flowering clematis. There are also peonies, water lilies (including tropical water lilies), Japanese flowering dogwood, lilies, rhododendrons, crape myrtle, lantana, depending on the season.
"Flower Fantasy" is an illumination spectacle that runs nightly from the end of October to early February. The dramatic and enchanting illuminations of wisteria and other plants are beautifully rendered and more worth your while than might be imagined. During the Flower Fantasy period, the illumination begins at nightfall and ends at 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 9:30 p.m. on weekends and public holidays.
There are a couple of places to eat on the grounds of Ashikaga Flower Park. The main entrance of the Park has a gardening store with seeds, potted plants and other flower garden-related for sale, as well as a souvenir shop offering a range of flower-themed (mainly wisteria-themed) confectioneries and snacks, soft toys, plushies, and more.
Hours and Access
Ashikaga Flower Park is closed on the third Wednesday and Thursday in February, and on December 31. Besides these three days, it is basically open every day of the year. However, note that the Park may close unexpectedly on certain days for equipment inspection, so please check ahead.
Ashikaga Flower Park opening hours are:
9 a.m.-6 p.m. early March to late November
10 a.m.-5 p.m. late November to early March.
However, hours change during the "Wisteria Flower Story" season from mid-April to mid-May, and during the "Flower Fantasy" illumination event from late-October to early-February. Please check ahead for details as the exact dates change every year.
The Ashikaga Flower Park entry fee fluctuates with the season, and is highest (up to 1,700 yen) in mid-April to mid-May, and lowest (as low as 300 yen) from July through February. Again, the details change every year, so please check ahead.
Train to Ashikaga Flower Park
On the Tobu Isesaki Line (starting at Asakusa Station in Tokyo), at Kuki Station change to the JR Tohoku Main Line, at Oyama Station change to the JR Ryomo Line, then get off the train at Tomita Station.
On the JR Tohoku Main Line (starting at Ueno Station in Tokyo), at Oyama Station change to the JR Ryomo Line, then get off the train at Tomita Station.
Ashikaga Flower Park is a 13 minute walk from Tomita Station.
Driving to Ashikaga Flower Park
On the Tohoku Expressway, exit from the Sano-Fujioka interchange, and drive along National Route 50 bound for Maebashi/Ashikaga.Takes about 18 minutes from the interchange.
On the Kita Kanto Expressway
-from the Ota Kiryu interchange drive along National Route 122 onto National Route 50 bound for Ashikaga/Oyama. Takes about 20 minutes from the interchange.
-from the Ashikaga interchange drive along National Route 293 onto Prefectural Route 67 bound for Sano. Takes about 15 minutes from the interchange.
-from the Sano Numata interchange drive along Prefectural Route 16 onto Prefectural Route 67 bound for Ashikaga. Takes about 12 minutes from the interchange.
Bus to Ashikaga Flower Park
A free shuttle bus to Ashikaga Flower Park leaves from Ashikaga Station daily during peak Park seasons (i.e. in spring until mid-May), but is a weekends- and public holidays-only service at other times of the year.
Showa Memorial Park is a much bigger park closer to Tokyo. While not dedicated to flowers in the same way as Ashikaga Flower Park, Showa Memorial Park is a vast natural and cultural treasure trove that costs little to enter and makes for a great day out.
If you are considering staying in the Ashikaga area see a listing of hotels in Ashikaga and Tochigi Prefecture from Agoda.
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