Category Archives: Beyond Tokyo

June 09

Secret Flower Seasons of Japan

So, everybody knows about the cherry blossoms, and I bet you flower mavens even know about the glories of the plums, wisteria, azaleas and iris. But recently a bunch of parks & gardens have figured out that the best way to attract crowds of wallet-carrying camera-toters in the off-season is to plant lots and lots […]

May 13

Endless Fields Of Blue

Every once in a while you discover a place where the photos that made you run to the nearest station and jump on godzilla-knows-how-many-trains to get there did not lie. Not even a little bit. Those pictures of hills swathed in an unbroken carpet of blue flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park? REAL. Where I come from, these little pieces of […]

April 29

Where To See The Most Beautiful Wisteria In Tokyo

It’s purple season again! Yes, the wisteria are blooming, and (did you even have to ask?) of course Japan has over-the-top displays of the good purple stuff. Peak season is mid-April to mid-May, so get thee to these spots right now to see the most eye-popping ones around… ASHIKAGA FLOWER PARK I admit that even if you totally […]

April 19

If I Were A Thousand Years Old, I Would Not Be Putting Out Like This

I mean, look at it. This tree is a THOUSAND years old. It has cranked out cascades of blossoms like this every spring, a thousand times. And if yesterday was any indication, the grand old lady is showing no signs of shirking anytime soon. Just imagine a fast forward of this tree’s life, with generations of cherry blossom viewers ebbing and flowing all around it, as […]

March 15

What’s Blooming In Japan Right Now?

So, around this time of year, I get to thinking about how everybody is about to crowd into Japan to see the fluffy pink things, but that cherry blossom season is far from the only time that this place delivers yowzah-level flower extravaganzas. So I made a thing. Here’s what’s blooming when, and the best places to take photos […]

March 09

Lost In A Forest Of Blooming Plum Trees

Yesterday I got to stumble around doing a 360˚ gawk in a forest of plum trees wearing all their favorite clothes at once. Kairakuen Garden in Mito was planted by a genius of a daimyo who totally got that too much of a good thing is never enough. 2,490 fluffy-branched trees later, I think I can safely say that this is the plum blossom extravaganza to end all […]

March 03

Girls’ Day Dolls…On Steroids

There’s a little town about two hours from Tokyo called Katsuura, where one a year, dolls rule. 12,000 of them, to be exact. So, how did Katsuura get so many dolls? The truth is, pretty much every Japanese girlbaby is given a set on her first New Year’s, but if you run out of girls to hand them down to, they’re really hard to […]