Is there anyone who missed viewing Cherry Blossoms this spring time in Tokyo or Kanto area ?
Don't be disappointed! You can still enjoy many kinds of flowers blooming more and more in this wonderful season !
As one of my recommendation, I would like to introduce you Shibazakura(Moss Pink, Mos phlox) at Hitsujiyama Park, Chichibu in Saitama prefecture which is now blooming.
Moss pink is commonly called "Shiba-zakura" in Japanese which can be translated as "lawn cherry blossoms" because they are stretching out like lawn on the ground with the beautiful pink and white colored flowers just like Cherry blossoms.
It 's just the carpet of flowers, Moss phlox of white and pink.
The area extends to about 16,500 square meters covered by several kinds of Shibazakura.
Beautiful patchwork of flowers ...!
(*) These photos were taken on May 3rd ,2006
It is quite popular, so there are many people coming especially on the weekends and National holidays(Golden Weeks.)
If you go early in the morning, there might be fewer people.
Open hour : from 8:00am to 5:00pm
Addmission fee of Hitsujiyama Park : JPY 300
Shibazakura Festival on the Shibazakura Hill at Hitsujiyama Park
From Apr.4 till May 8 ,2008
Shibazakura blooming around from middle of Apr until beginning of May depending on the weather condition of the year
Access to the Hitsujiyama Park from Tokyo
It takes about 90 mins. from Seibu Ikebukuro station to Yokoze station by Tokkyu express train of Seibu Ikebukuro Line. Cheaper trains take about 2 hours.
(There are also other nearest stations such as Seibu Chichibu station (Seibu Chichibu Line) and Ohanabatake station and Chichibu station (Chichibu Railways Line))
About 30 mins walk from Yokoze Station to the Hitsujiyama Park.
You can go there in a day. It is good for hiking !
Last rainy Sunday, I visited the peony garden next to Ueno Toshogu Shrine.
It is still slightly early to enjoy peonies but I could see some beautiful flowers.
Over 200 types peonies are planted in the calm Japanese style garden.
At the end of the garden, you can post your "Haiku"(a Japanese style short poem)
I found a heart shape strange flower!
Spring Peony Festival until May 11
Peony Garden at Ueno Toshogu Shrine
Admission for peony garden: JPY 600
Today, I introduce you our brand new tours!
Become a Samurai, a Ninja or even an Ikebana Master, Experience the deepeness of Noh Playing! You can get a unique opportunity to immerse yourself within a deep Japanese cultural with Sunrise Tours!
Ninja and Samurai Tour /JPY 13,900
On one-day spectacular tour, get a chance to "travel back in time" just as if you were within the center of action of a Kurosawa movie or maybe playing the counter role to Toshiro Mifune by joining this unique chance of trying on real samurai armor, ninja costumes and learning within one day demonstration and " live" personal trial the basics of traditional sword fighting or spying techniques:
in just one day, get on a clandestine operation as a true ninja master or proclaim full allegiance of service to a feudal lord. After a full lecture on everything you wish to know about the samurai and ninja world, put on your gear and get into action within the center of a decisive battle scene!
Noh: Traditional Japanese Theater Tour on May 23 /JPY 39,000
On May 23rd,2008, get into the deep soul of Japan through a wonderful evening journey into the Noh theater world, one of the earliest and most traditional Japanese musical and dance drama form existing unchanged since the 14th century and classified by the UNESCO as a world cultural heritage legacy.
With origins tunneling in time as far as earlier folk-type drama entertainment directly related to Shinto rituals, the Noh theater genre later appeared and blended into a unique type of play dramas composed of song and dances.
Codified and unchanged since the 14th century, Noh actors (mostly men) depict through dances and songs the human drama expressed through the severe aesthetic appearance of their masks. With this evening tour, deepen into one of the cultural "pearl" of traditional Japan and enjoy within one incredible night the exquisite ambiance of a Noh play drama at the prestigious Nogakudo stage right within the elegant Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya!
Half-day Ikebana Experience /JPY 25,000
Within one of the most reputed school of flower arranging in Japan (Sogetsu school) adventure yourself, in one half-day, the essential of ikebana in just one morning:
the perfect culture experience plan if you are a bit tight up with the schedule of your journey or if you are definitely looking for an unforgettable moment!
With a history of more than 600 years from the teachings of a priest in Kyoto who had great capabilities in arranging flowers, ikebana, the traditional art of flower arrangement has for aim to represent in an ascetic simplicity and serenity the harmony of the universe according to a set of codified rules respecting the purity and order of natural elements.
Finding origins from a Buddhist ritual of offering flower to the spirits of the deceased, ikebana developed into a proper art appreciated within the nobility in a first time then later on among all levels of society with different schools and styles arising until today.
Ikebana is usually found decorating the toko-no-ma, or the alcove in rooms of most Japanese traditional houses. Find a harmonious deepness and serenity with yourself being one with a nature assembling a perfect balance for a memorable moment.
Full-day Japanese Culture Experience
-Ikebana, Kimono & Tea Ceremony- /JPY 30,000
The full course for a memorable immersion within culture and tradition!
A unique and rich opportunity in just one day! Very convenient if you have a tight journey schedule in Japan or if you just want to experience something different or culturally deep, this full day Japanese culture experience will allow you to seize in one grasp the three most popular traditional arts of Japan: ikebana flower arrangement, kimono wearing and the way to ritually drinking Japanese green tea in a tea ceremony.
Start first with the ikebana, flower arrangement demonstration in the morning followed
by a lunch. Experience, then, the techniques of wearing traditional kimono and enjoy
your new fashion in a real-time action by being one of the center members of a traditional tea ceremony in which you will be given a chance to understand the ceremonial greetings and methods of drinking tea unchanged since the 15th century.
Free pick-up & drop-off, lunch & English service guide included!
Mt. Fuji, a symbol of Japan, is lovely to behold when covered in snow. But when summer comes, most of that snow melts. And it is not just snow that falls on Mt. Fuji; it rains a great deal as well. But there are no rivers flowing at the foot of Mt. Fuji. So where exactly does the water from the snowmelt and rain go?
Since long ago, Mt. Fuji has erupted repeatedly, creating its current shape. The geological features of the mountain and the nearby land vary according to the period of eruptions. Simply put, there is a layer formed by hardened volcanic mud flows through which water cannot easily flow, and on top of that is a layer formed from cooled magma, through which water can flow easily (like a sponge with lots of holes).
Because the surface of Mt. Fuji absorbs water well, the rain and snowmelt do not form rivers and instead permeate underground. The water gathers in the sponge-like layer on top of the water-resistant layer and eventually it gushes out at the foot of the mountain. The five lakes of Mt. Fuji, which include Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka in Yamanashi Prefecture, and the Shiraito Falls in Shizuoka Prefecture, are examples of the places where the water Mt. Fuji was storing up finally surfaces above ground.
The city of Mishima in Shizuoka Prefecture was one of the stations along the old Tokaido route that linked Edo with Kyoto and Osaka, and it prospered as an inn town where travelers would find lodging for the night. It is located more than 30 km away from Mt. Fuji, but even here one can find the snowmelt from Mt. Fuji gushing up.
About 8,500 years ago, Mt. Fuji erupted and the lava is said to have flowed as far as what is now downtown Mishima. At the farthest edge of the lava flow you can find many springs. Among them is the Kakita River, situated in the neighboring town of Shimizu (about 10 minutes by bus from Mishima Station), which is famous for its abundant supply of spring-fed water.
The source of the river is found in the Kakita River Park, which is located along the Tokaido Highway/National Route 1, where it suddenly emerges as a 30-50 meter wide river. Although there is no river on the north side of Route 1, it suddenly appears on the south side of the road.
Each day, between 800,000 and 1.2 million tons of water flow from the spring, and the water temperature remains at a constant approximate temperature of 15°C all year. The water is used by many of the nearby residents in Shimizu, Mishima, and elsewhere for drinking and for use in industry and agriculture. At the shinkansen (bullet train) rail yard in Mishima, the industrial use water from the Kakita River is used to wash train cars.
There are two observation decks in the park for viewing the source of the river. Peering down from the first deck, you can see the clear water gushing forth and whipping up the sand on the riverbed. Unlike the usual image of the headwaters of a river, it is not a small flow at all. Rather than a stream, the water that continuously gushes forth instead forms a river right away.
Under the second observation deck is a large, round wellspring, and the water that comes up is a sparkling blue-green color.
It may not look like much - simply a spot where water springs up and forms a river. But when you consider that the water has come the more than 30 km from Mt. Fuji, traveling for what some say is anywhere from 80 days to a century before it eventually bursts out in this spring, finally appearing above ground again and providing its bountiful blessings to so many people and other living things, you forget about time for a while and find yourself entranced by the flow...
Incidentally, the Kakita River is only about 1.2 km long, as it quickly merges with the Kano River. But despite its short length, this clear stream is greatly loved by local residents. Why not try visiting it sometime?
Getting to the Kakita River from Tokyo
Take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Mishima Station. Take the Tokai bus heading toward Numazu Station via "Sun to Moon", or take the Kakita-gawa Loop bus, and get off at the Kakitagawa Yusui Kouen-mae stop (about 15 minutes).
The river is an approximately 1-minute walk from there.
Hotel & Ryokan close to Mishima, Shizuoka. You may enjoy an Onsen there!
In Yokohama, most of cherry blossoms are already Hazakura at the stage which is in Japanese, the end of blossoming peak blending from a far distance a beautiful contrast of a fresh tender green and a climax pink cherry flower.
On last Sunday, I enjoyed a cherry blossom viewing outdoors party called in Japanese, Ohanami Party at Motomachi Park with the falling cherry blossoms and carpets of the petals
Motomachi Park spreads out on the slope along the Yamate Main Street, next to Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery.
In this park, you can enjoy to walk on the promenade and gentle stairs in lush flower garden.
In the beginning of Meiji era, it was called Mizuyashiki waterworks since spring water in this area was sold as potable water for foreign ships.
There is a also famous monument in memory of Mr. Alfredo Gerard who from France burned Western bricks for the first time.
How to access the Motomachi Park?
[From JR Ishikawacho Station]
It takes about 15 minutes by walking. The park is located in the other side of Motomachi Shopping Avenue.
[From Tokyu Minatomirai Line, Motomachi Chukagai Station]
It takes about 3 minutes by walking.
I want to introduce you to one romantic course in Yokohama area where I've been there just a few days ago!
Start from Yokohama station to forward to Sankeien Garden for evening cherry blossom viewing.
Take a local bus #8 or #148 from a bus stop #2 at Yokohama station east exit, and then, Sankeien Garden is just about 35 minutes to get to the bus stop named "Honmoku Sankeien Garden Mae ( in frot of Honmoku Sankeien Garden)".
Once you walk through a row of cherry blossom trees about 5 minutes, you can see the entrance of the garden.
It is a beautiful combination of Japanese garden with Three Storied Pagoda of Old Tonyoji and Cherry blossoms.
There are small tea houses and you can enjoy rice dumpling, ramen noodle and amazake that taste like sweet sake under cherry blossom trees.
* Click here and read another article about Sankeien Garden?
When you take a bus from "Honmoku Sankeien Garden Mae" to "Yokohama Station" or "Sakuragicho station", you will see the big ferris wheel named Cosmo Clock 21 in your right side. It is a Minatomirai 21 area where is one of the popular date spots in Japan.
Let's get off the bus and enjoy a romantic ambience in Minatomirai 21 area!
My recommendation place is Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse.
Until April 20, 2008, there is special flower garden for 150th anniversary of Yokohama Port and it's illuminated in evening (until 24:00).
And some of restaurants have terrace dinning and enjoy viewing both garden and sea with delicious meal.
There are also nice atmosphere spots in this area likes Observatory "Sky Garden" at Yokohama Landmark Tower, Amusument Park "Yokohama Cosmoworld" and Shopping center "Queen's Square Yokohama"
*When you get tired from walking, why don't you relax Onsen (Spa)? Read an article about Yokohama Minatomirai Manyo Club.