Who Knew There Was A Butterfly Season In Tokyo?

Went to check on whether the cosmos were blooming yet at Hama-Rikyu Teien garden last week and discovered that the lovely fields of gently nodding multicolored blooms I remembered were looking vastly overgrown and (honestly!) kind of ratty. I was about to stalk away muttering, “Disappointment, thy name is Hama-Rikyu” when the corner of my eye caught a fluttering.

And not just a fluttering, a whole heap of flutterings!

And they weren’t just boring old monarchs and mourning cloaks like I could see back home, they were exotic butterflies I’d never seen before.

This one is rakishly called a Blue Triangle (or Grapheum sarpedon nipponum if you want to go all Latin on me) and it struck me that the combination of those wings and that flower were one of life’s sublime planet-aligning color moments

This beauty is the local Swallowtail morph (Papilio xuthus) and it’s called ageha in Japanese, same as the butterfly girls whose natural habitat is Shibuya 109

And this is an Indian fritillary (Arhynnis hyperbius), sipping a cocktail amid the Tokyo skyscrapers

The male fritillary is not so showy, but still a treat to see franting about in the orange and green

And even though the cosmos weren’t looking their best, there were still plenty of pretty moments

This garden is still a fine place to stroll…

…especially on a fine fall day.

The cosmos are in bloom right now, until late October, and here’s where to see huge fields of them in & around Tokyo. And if you’d like to visit Hama-Rikyu Teien garden the next time you’re in Tokyo, a map & info on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with a pair of strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more