Beyond the cherry blossoms: what’s blooming in Japan’s flower gardens

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With a calendar that’s filled with events and festivals celebrating the distinct natural phenomena of spring, summer, autumn and winter, there’s no country that embraces its seasons quite like Japan. Case in point? Springtime – a season that’s become a symbol of Japan itself, with its dusting of candy-pink cherry blossoms, hanami flower viewing activities and hordes of people picnicking beneath the trees.

But what happens once the sakura petals have fallen? Well, it doesn’t mean the flower party’s over, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s only just begun! After the sakura comes a veritable flora free-for-all – with an eye-popping array of blooms springing up across the country. To help get you closer to the flurry of floral activity, we’re rounding up some of the most quintessentially Japanese flowers you can see in Japan right now.


Whether they’re pink, red, purple or white, there’s no denying it: azaleas are everywhere in Japan at this time of year. April and May normally see Tokyo-dwellers heading to Nezu Shrine in their droves for the annual Bunkyo Azalea Festival – though this year, the event has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as you can see from these photos, the gardens are still in full bloom…


Meanwhile, over at Fujiyama Shrine in Nagasaki Prefecture, it’s the flowering wisteria vines that are filling Instagram feeds. In fact, the ‘fuji’ in Fujiyama comes from the Japanese word for wisteria – which isn’t surprising, when you find out that the cascading wisteria plants here are around 800 years old!

Perhaps the most famous place to spot some Japansese wisteria, though, is Ashikaga Flower Park – a veritable wonderland for flower buffs. Here, the wisteria are currently in peak season, and look oh-so- pretty lit up at night…


According to Japan’s 72 Microseasons calendar, April 30 – May 4 is officially the time when ‘the tree peony flowers’ –but if you know where to look, you might catch sight of one of these jumbo pink beauties a little sooner. Head to Yuushien Garden on Daikon Island in Shimane Prefecture at this time of year, and you’ll be greeted by 30,000 colourful peonies, plus a unique pond decorated with carefully cut flowers.


Just like the cherry blossoms, Japan’s irises have come into bloom a little early this year – with around 420,000 of the vibrant purple flowers now blanketing Hayamizu Park in Miyazaki Prefecture. In Japan, irises are a symbol of heroism, since their deep blue colour represents blue blood.


Although these pretty little blue flowers are actually native to the western United States, they’re very popular in Japan, too – as the residents of Hitachinaka in Ibaraki Prefecture will tell you. At Hitachi Seaside Park, a whopping 5.3 million nemophila plants have turned the undulating fields a pastel blue.

What’s next?

Of course, as you might expect, Japan’s flower obsession doesn’t end with these late-spring bloomers. Once their time is done, it’s on to the next, with the Japanese summer being famous for its hydrangeas, lavender, lotuses and sunflowers… And we all know what happens after that. Anyone for a spot of koyo (autumn leaf viewing)?

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