Where To See Magical Red Autumn Lilies In Tokyo

This photo was taken on September 19, 2017 (the season started a few days early this year). Higanbana generally burst into bloom right after the first big rain of mid-September.

These Japanese amaryllis bloom once a year for only a few days, right at the fall equinox. If you move fast, you can still catch the higanbana in their full glory right now! Here’s where:

KINCHAKUDA near Koma Station

This magical forest of red spider lilies isn’t a quick jaunt from a stop on the Yamanote Line – you’ll have to journey a little over an hour by train to Koma Station – but it’ll be worth it, don’t you think?

Paths meandering through fields of lovely knee-high amaryllis just go on and on and on. The first time I came here, I couldn’t believe how big this place is! More than five million bulbs are planted at Kinchakuda.

The fields wend their way alongside a river lined with trees, which makes the whole experience a blessedly shady one. And even though I was there on a peak tourist day, it didn’t seem at all crowded.

The reason these gorgeous lilies aren’t quite so widely celebrated as, say, cherry blossoms, is that they have a reputation for being a bit creepy. Higanbana are most often found growing near graveyards – the bulbs are really toxic, so they were planted to keep mice and rats out. So although “higanbana” means “equinox flower,” they’re also known by the ur-Goth name of “Corpse Lily.”

Which is why – cheerily red though they are – giving a bouquet of these beauties is a bit of a death threat (or at least not the best choice for a “get well” gift!)

But that’s the last thing you’ll feel strolling through the foresty wonderland. Trust me, this schlep is well worth it, and although there is a short window when the entire place is blooming like this, ones near the entrance bloom just slightly later than the ones farther away, so even if you don’t hit it in the perfect sweet spot, there’s plenty of red goodness for about ten days around peak bloom

Kinchakuda is a little over an hour by train from Shinjuku Station, then a fifteen minute walk from Koma Station. It’s easy to know the fastest route, because there will be a steady stream of eager flower viewers heading that direction.

Open for higanbana viewing: September 16 – October 1

Admission: ¥300

MAP

Kinchakuda is the most spectacular display of higanbana, but you can also find these excellent flowers blooming at various parks in Tokyo:

KORAKUEN GARDEN near Korakuen Station

Higanbana punctuate the greenery with sparks of red all over Korakuen Garden…

…but there is always a nice stand of them near the wisteria trellises, reflecting in my favorite meandering stream

And if you look back toward the famous stone Moon Bridge, you’ll see a naturalized patch of them that’s just achingly beautiful

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00

Open: Every day except Dec 31 – Jan 1

Admission: ¥300

MAP

KYU-SHIBA RIKYU TEIEN GARDEN near Hamamatsucho Station

Exuberant stands of higanbana burst from the deep green in this little-known stroll garden, right next to Hamamatsucho Station

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00

Open: Every day except Dec 31 – Jan 1

Admission: ¥150

MAP

HAMA-RIKYU TEIEN GARDEN near Shiodome Station

Casual patches of higanbana pop up delightfully as you meander through this huge park. Bonus: the cosmos field is in bloom at the same time!

Hours: 9:30 – 17:00

Open: Every day except Dec 31 – Jan 1

Admission: ¥300

MAP

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