One of the best things to do in Japan is to celebrate the spring with a hanami (flower viewing party). The word hanami has become synonymous with cherry blossoms, but it doesn’t exclusively refer to them. Any species of flowers in Japan are well worth the visit. You can go to gardens, parks, temples, and shrines to see stunning seasonal displays all year round.
In particular, the purple wisteria vines draw crowds with their vibrant colors and aromatic fragrances. In Japanese culture, they represent love and longevity, and we often see them used in art, poems, family crests, and formal kimonos. In one of the most famous kabuki dances, “Fuji Musume” (Wisteria Maiden) the heroine carries wisteria to symbolize the sentiments of love. Buddhists also have a fondness for them because their descending petals and branches resemble a head bent in prayer.
Their mesmerizing beauty and cultural significance make wisteria one of the must-see flowers in Japan. If you’re going during this time of year, don’t miss out! Read on to find out when and where you can see the best wisteria in Japan.
In general, wisterias bloom in Japan in May. However, the season can vary depending on weather patterns and local climates. In the warm southern islands like Kyushu, the purple flowers can start appearing as early as mid-April. The further north you go, the later they blossom, but the peak bloom usually ends for the entire country by mid-May.
With the right planning, you can schedule your vacation to include cherry blossoms, wisteria, and even more flowers! However, be wary of flying during the Golden Week holidays (April 29th-May 5th). During this time of year, many businesses close and the number of travelers surges. You won’t just be contending with international tourists, but locals on vacation as well!
Once you find your perfect travel dates, it’s time to pick where you want to go. To see the best wisteria gardens in Japan, check out these places below.
Ashikaga Flower Park is an expansive 23-acre fantasyland of petals and plants. It’s only one hour away from Tokyo, making it the perfect place to take a day trip. The park is home to more than 350 wisterias, including varieties of purple, blue, white, and pink. An annual festival from April 13th to May 19th celebrates them with LED illumination events at night.
Among the most memorable exhibits are the 80-meter wisteria flower tunnels. During the full bloom, they droop from trellises in immense arches that you can stroll through. At this time, you can also see the pride of Tochigi Prefecture known as the “Great Miracle Wisteria.” This 150-year-old wisteria tree is so massive that beams must support its heavy branches, which gives it an umbrella-like appearance.
Ibaraki Prefecture’s Kasama Inari Shrine is one of the three largest fox shrines in Japan. According to legend, it was founded over 1300 years ago. It’s a favorite place for locals to pray during the New Year’s holidays. More than 3.5 million pilgrims visit annually to worship the enshrined deity of wealth and good fortune.
The wisteria season in Japan brings out the shrine’s most appealing charms. Planted 400 years ago, they begin to bloom roughly around May 10th. They’re a rare variety of seedless wisteria and produce deep-colored petals that cluster together like bunches of grapes. Around this time, you can also visit Hitachi Seaside Park to see 3.5 million Baby Blue Eyes flowers.
The Kawachi Fujien Garden is a private garden that only opens during the peak seasons for wisterias and autumn leaves. Its unequivocal beauty draws travelers in droves, but its short opening periods present a slight difficulty. To enter, visitors must purchase advance tickets or risk getting their entry denied. The opening dates change according to when the blossoms open, but they tend to fall between late April and mid-May.
The garden is home to some of the most well-known wisteria tunnels in Japan. One is around 80 meters long, and the other is 110 meters. Over 20 varieties of Japanese wisteria trees make up the tunnels that range in color from pure white to deep violet. Other attractions include a hillside viewing point, a collection of large trees that create a wisteria roof, and other seasonal flowers.