If you have to postpone your Japan trip and miss the cherry blossoms this spring, don’t despair! There are other flower seasons you can catch after the current contagion dies down that deliver just as much flowers-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see amazement, without the crowds. If eye-popping flowers are what you’re longing to see, here are my five favorites, that burst into gorgeousness later in the year.
I once asked a Japanese friend why azalea season wasn’t celebrated a much as the cherry blossoms, and her answer was, “Because they last too long.” This, however, is only a downside if you’re a haiku poet jonesing for a subtle reference to the fleeting nature of life. For the rest of us, hillsides paved with solid red, magenta, purple and white are eye candy of epic proportions.
If you need more convincing, these.
Click here for photos, info and maps to the six most amazing places to see azaleas in Tokyo.
Japanese gardeners must have wizarding skills, because they can make wisteria bloom in ways that are magical. Here are eight places to see over-the-top wisteria in Tokyo with info & maps.
Early to mid-May
You’ve probably never heard of shibazakura, but if you visit one of the places where they plant whole landscapes of it, I can guarantee you’ll never forget it.
This carpet o’ flowers blooms for pretty much the whole month of May, and although the areas with enough real estate to stage something like this are a little outside of Tokyo, you can easily see them in a day trip. Here’s where to see excellent shibazakura.
Early to mid-May
BABY BLUE EYES!
Masses of flowers don’t have to be pink to be mesmerizing. These hillsides covered with Baby Blue Eyes (called nemophila, in Japan) deliver the kind of delightful punch you get the first time you see the fluffy pink trees, but without the three-ring-circus of The Season.
Am I right, or am I right? Here’s where you can see hillsides covered with Baby Blue Eyes (and more) in an easy day trip from Tokyo, at Hitachi Seaside park.
These native Japanese amaryllis (called higanbana) bloom in vermilion profusion, as far as the eye can see, at a huge riverside park that’s within an hour of Tokyo. Over five million bulbs burst forth like this around the fall equinox, and I think you’ll agree that they easily rival the cherry blossoms in their splendor.
Here’s where to see the enchanted forest of gorgeous red higanbana.
And guess what? If you can’t reschedule your trip when these five are blooming, there are lots more!
Nearly every month of the year offers spectacular flowers that will quell your regrets that you missed the famous pink ones. Click here to see them all:
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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!