Most flower seasons in Japan are like hitting the jackpot, but lotus season is more of a treasure hunt. Instead of fields of I-can’t-believe-my-eyes color, you have to hunt for the sublime pinkness amid a sea of green.
But when you find it…
Lotus flowers open at first light, are at their best from about 7:00 to 9:00, then they close up again, so it pays to strap on your alarm clock and be up with the birds if you want to see them at their finest. But they bloom rain or shine, and they’re the one flower that’s always more beautiful in the rain. They start blooming in mid-July, and keep on ’til mid-August, so there’s plenty of time to get out and catch a little heavenly bliss.
Here are the very best places to see them, in and around Tokyo…
TOKYO UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE OF AGRO-ECOSUSTAINABLE SERVICES near Tanashi Station
I know this doesn’t sound like the most promising of garden experiences, but…these.
But you’ll have to go quick, to see this year’s display! This is the last week the collection will be open to the public until next year. Their website (in Japanese) is here.
Lotus exhibition opening days: June 11 – July 19 (2019), Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:45 – 10:45, plus a special final opening day on Saturday, July 20 from 7:00 – 11:00
SHINOBAZU POND in Ueno Park, near Ueno Station
And if you’re like me, there are few things more satisfying in the world than watching raindrops collect on lotus leaves until they spill:
Open: Every day
Hours: no limit to access
SANKEI-EN GARDEN in Yokohama, near Negishi Station
This garden offers special early opening hours from July 13 – August 4 (2019), so you can enjoy the blooms at their absolute peak.
Sankei-en’s early opening lotus program: 6:00 – 8:30 am, only on Saturdays, Sundays & national holidays
When: July 13 – August 4 (2019)
Garden admission: ¥700 (Early lotus hours and demonstrations are free once you’re in the gate)
MAP with step-by-step directions for getting to the garden from Negishi station
KORAKU-EN GARDEN near Korakuen Station
The lotus display at Koraku-en Garden isn’t grand, but it’s set in a lovely place, and after viewing the flowers, you can stroll through the rest of the garden, which is one of my very favorite walks, in any season.
Open: Every day except 12/29-1/3
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
You can also find lotus flowers blooming at many temples, because lotus have special meaning in Buddhist theology. The ethereally pristine flowers soar high above their muddy roots, symbolizing the way enlightened pure thought transforms and transcends its origins in mundane everyday existence.
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“Without question, the best book I have read all year.” —Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mysteries and CLIMB
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!