Up To My Knees In A Vermilion Sea

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As you may have guessed by now, in Japan no flower is safe from being planted together en masse, in order to deliver total sensory overload at the appointed moment. It’s no surprise that cherry blossoms, wisteria and azaleas all vie to attract record crowds as they burst into bloom, but who knew that lesser-known denizens have their own theme parks too?

Last week I went with some Japanese friends to Kinchakuda, a flower park near Koma Station, and the spidery red lilies did not disappoint! These members of the amaryllis family are called higanbana – “equinox flowers” – because in Japan they bloom just as summer slips into autumn, at the moment when the night becomes the same length as the day.

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If you’re in Tokyo at the end of September and would like to see the higanbana in bloom, take the train to Koma Station and follow the signs (and crowd!) to the Kinchakuda site. Admission: ¥300. Note: these flowers really do reach their peak on the few days right around the equinox (Sept 21), so you have to act fast (and be lucky in your choice of day!) to see them looking this amazing. It’s better to go too early than too late, though, because they still look beautiful when they’re not all in full bloom yet, but not so much when some of them are past it and withering.

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