When The Gods Decide To Plant A Lotus Garden, They Don’t Mess Around

It was construction as usual in the town of Gyoda, until an excavation for a new building hit a layer of lotus plants that had been dead for thousands of years. They didn’t think much of it, until the rain came, and the ancient lotus seeds began to sprout. When the plants bloomed, the flowers had fewer petals than modern lotus, and local botanists discovered it was a variety they thought was long-extinct!

Well, WOO HOO, lucky for us, extinct no more. Thank you, gods of lotus propagation! Scientists believe the original seeds dated from 2,500-3,000 years ago

Now there’s a gigantic garden of these ancient lotus, sitting amid the rice fields

First glimpse of the bounty to come

And (Insta fans take note) the surrounding park makes a truly lovely backdrop

Kodaihasu-no-sato (as this garden is called) now has ponds upon ponds of these ancient lotus – 120,000 plants, at last count – plus 41 other varieties planted in banks of raised beds out front, for your viewing pleasure. And in case you think, eh, you seen one lotus you seen ’em all, these:

From the nearby tower, you can get an amazing overview of the gardens

This is the view from the observation deck

And see how those zig-zagging wooden boardwalks go right out among the flowers? It’s photo-snapping paradise (unless, of course, you’re there with one of the inevitable guys in orange jackets. I didn’t actually see one this time, but a related killjoy of a cameraman wearing a bright white shirt rushed in and set up his tripod right in the middle of one of the other ponds, so I give him honorary orange jacket points for figuring way too prominently in the background of everybody else’s shots)

And the exhibit inside the ground floor of the tower is stuffed with interesting lotus facts. Like, they not only bloom at sunrise and close up by noon, they bloom differently on each day! On the first day, they only open up a little (like the one sticking up above the leaves in this picture), on the second day, they open up wide (like the one at the bottom of the photo) and on the last day, they go all out and drop their petals, making way for the seed pods to raise their many-eyed heads

The only downside is that you do need to get there early in the morning to see them at their best, but the consolation prize is that then you can spend plenty of time up in the tower afterwards admiring the rice field art

The Gyoda Ancient Lotus Garden (Kodaihasu-no-sato) is near the town of Gyoda, in Saitama prefecture, and because it’s way out in the country, it’s not super easy to get to. I have a long-suffering and equally flower-mad Japanese friend with a car, which made it easier. If you’d like to go, the next time you’re in Japan, there’s a map on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

When she can manage to tear herself away from the pretty pink things, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

For nine years, Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura thought his mother’s death was an accident. Then he gets a call, and his life begins to unravel. Because if it wasn’t an accident…what was it? Read more