Travel to 3 Flower Parks in Japan - Day 2
August 07, 2022 • Leave a Comment
While there are ongoing restrictions on travelling to Japan (although tourist groups have been allowed into the country starting from June), I would like to share some previous travel stories and photos with you. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit some amazing flower parks in Japan, three of which were on my "bucket list" of places to see in person. If you missed Day 1 of this trip where I visited Hitachi Seaside Park, you can read about it on this page.
On the next day, I headed out to Ashikaga Flower Park. I started out bright and early as this day-trip required 2 train rides, with a transfer at Oyama station to a shorter local train. On this local train, station stops were only announced by a soft-spoken conductor, as opposed to the Japan Rail (JR) trains with electronic signs indicating station names in multiple languages along the route. There were many other visitors going to the park on that sunny day, so I had no difficulty getting to there. Upon arrival, I studied the park map to confirm its layout, which I had briefly seen on the internet before my trip.
Although this park is famous for its wisteria flowers, there are also other varieties of flowers that can be enjoyed in its many gardens.
The different colours or varieties of wisteria (called "ofuji" in Japanese) reached peak bloom at different times - the pink variety was barely visible when I arrived, a few yellow ones were still in bloom, the most abundant purple (both long and double varieties) were at peak bloom, while the white variety was at its prime when I visited.
This wisteria tree is over 130 years old and was transplanted in the 1990's through the efforts of more than 2000 people! At that time the trellis spread over 600m2 and continues to grow today. It's known as the Great Wisteria of Miracle, truly a miracle.
The double wisteria variety looks like bunches of grapes hanging from the trellis:
A tunnel of white wisteria flowers for visitors to stroll through:
And a bridge covered with the white flowers - such a romantic spot!
I was amazed by the beautiful dangling "strings" of flowers swaying in the breeze, and took many photos of the overall canopy formed by the branches. But I also wanted to capture the delicacy of individual flowers that make up the whole scene.
As you can imagine, with so many layers of flowers in front of my camera lens, focusing became a problem, even with single point focus. So I switched to manual focus mode and below are some of my favourite images.
The park offered several sweets based on the flower theme, and with the warm weather, it was the perfect combination to have this lavender colour wisteria-flavoured ice cream bar while enjoying the view!
When dusk arrives, the "light-up" of the garden starts. It gives the flowers a completely different look against the dark sky. Here are some images of the white variety with illumination:
Ashikaga Park - White Wisteria-LIt Up
The Great Wisteria of Miracle also looks amazing with the light-up effect:
Here is a yellow wisteria tunnel followed by a close-up of the flowers:
Ashikaga Park - Yellow Wisteria-LIt Up
The most dramatic are the views by the water, as the canopy of lit-up flowers is reflected for double the effect.
Ashikaga Park - Purple Wisteria-LIt Up-1
Ashikaga Park - Purple Wisteria-LIt Up-2
There are also other flower decorations around the park that make for a full day's visit, and a wide variety of plants are available for sale at the garden shop. In winter months, the park is transformed into an illumination attraction with beautiful designs - I'll have to visit again in winter season to capture those views. Which of the images posted here are your favourite?
I wanted to stay until the park's closing time but had booked my Shinkansen train ticket back to Tokyo, so I got on the local train and headed back after taking some photos of the light-up views. I started to doze off on the train ride (jet lag was catching up with me!) but I tried to listen intently to the station names as they were announced, because I needed to make a transfer at Oyama. When the conductor announced "Omoigawa", which when pronounced quickly in Japanese, sounded to me like "Oyama", I grabbed my backpack and jumped off the train. Against the dark sky, I thought: this station doesn't look like the one I transferred at this morning. By the time I realized it wasn't Oyama station (I got off one stop early!) the train had pulled away from the platform and it was too late to get back on. I flagged down a high school student on the platform to ask (using the limited Japanese that I knew) if Oyama station is within walking distance. She suggested I call a taxi, but my phone didn't work there as I had trouble setting up the SIM card I bought. She kindly helped me call 2 different taxi companies, but unfortunately no one answered.
Then I recalled a friend said that when her family got lost in Japan, a kind soul drove them to their destination. So I decided to try my luck and went down to the parking lot, to see if any of the parents picking up their children would be headed in the direction of Oyama station. A father listened to my situation as I tried to explain in broken Japanese, but he was waiting to pick up his family and wouldn't be able to help me out. After having a chat with him using the Japanese nouns and verbs that I could remember..."Oyama eki ni ikitai..." (I want to go to Oyama station), I went back up to the platform to wait for the next train. Fortunately, there were 2 more trains running that night, otherwise I'd have to stay the night in the tiny train station shelter instead of my hotel room. When I reached Oyama Station, I was able to easily exchange my Shinkansen ticket (perhaps because I had a Rail Pass?) for the next train back to Tokyo. Eventually I reached my comfortable hotel bed for a good night's sleep!
For the third day of my flower park visits, please see my next blog post...coming soon!
Keywords: Ashikaga Flower Park, fine art photography, flower parks, flowers, Japan, ofuji, photography, rita wong photography, travel photography, wisteria
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