Five Japanese flower seasons that will make you happy you missed the cherry blossoms

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,Continue reading “Five Japanese flower seasons that will make you happy you missed the cherry blossoms”

Killer Chrysanthemums 2019

It’s that time of year again, when the chrysanthemum wranglers of Tokyo liberate their flower-of-choice from ragtag funeral bouquets and show the world they can hold their own with far more glamorous blooms! Here’s what’s new for 2019: • YUSHIMA TENJIN SHRINE The rest of the displays at the Yushima Shrine are here: Where ToContinue reading “Killer Chrysanthemums 2019”

Flowers By Naked 2019

This year’s Flowers by Naked (at the same Coredo venue that hosts Art Aquarium during the summer) was better than last year but not as engaging as the first year I saw it. The art of projection mapped animation has taken such huge strides in three years that it kind of amazes me how wowed I wasContinue reading “Flowers By Naked 2019”

Gateway To Chrysanthemum Bliss?

Okay, what do you think THIS floral designer got in trouble for drawing in the margins of his schoolbooks…? If I’d come in through this portal, I might never have made it to the annual Shinjuku National Garden chrysanthemum displays, because I’d have died laughing, so it’s a good thing I entered from the otherContinue reading “Gateway To Chrysanthemum Bliss?”

In The Japanese Dahlia Garden

There’s a secret walled garden at the Ueno Toshogu Shrine that’s only open once a year for peony season, but guess what? This year they’re letting us come in to see the dahlias too! Bring your thesaurus, though, so you don’t wear out the word WOW. Open: Every day from September 30 – October 29Continue reading “In The Japanese Dahlia Garden”

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 eyeContinue reading “Butterfly Season In Tokyo”

Flower Dream 2017

Just when you need a little something to lift your wilted spirits, the dog days of summer fail to dish up a single Japanese flower extravaganza. Which is why I’ve been saving these snippets of last spring’s Flower Dream Expo for your reviving pleasure! •

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 lotsContinue reading “Secret Flower Seasons of Japan”

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 ofContinue reading “Endless Fields Of Blue”

Where To See The Most Amazing Azaleas In Tokyo

From mid-April to mid-May, it seems like there are bright pink bushes whipping by the train window everywhere you go in Tokyo, but there are a few special places that just beg you to take the kind of snaps that make everyone scream “I want to go to there!” Here are my favorite places to take azaleaContinue reading “Where To See The Most Amazing Azaleas In Tokyo”

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 photosContinue reading “What’s Blooming In Japan Right Now?”

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 allContinue reading “Lost In A Forest Of Blooming Plum Trees”

Plum Blossom Countdown

All of February (and a little of March) is the best time to see fluffy pink and white and red beauties bursting like popcorn all over Tokyo. Here are the best places to see them, in order of when they bloom: Note: These photos were all taken from 2014-2016, so depending on how warm or coldContinue reading “Plum Blossom Countdown”

Where To See Huge Fields Of Cosmos In Tokyo

If you think that vast fields of blooming wildflowers are something you won’t find in Tokyo…think again! From mid-September to mid-October every year, the lowly cosmos is elevated to extravaganza status at two different gardens, blossoming in snapworthy profusion for about four weeks. • SHOWA KINEN PARK – Tachikawa This truly enormous park is about an hour from Shinjuku station,Continue reading “Where To See Huge Fields Of Cosmos In Tokyo”

The Magical Red Forest

If it happens to be raining when you are invited to walk through a magical forest carpeted with five million blooming amaryllis, do not say no. Because this. If you’re in Tokyo at the end of September and would like to see the higanbana in bloom, get thee on the train to Koma Station (it takes aboutContinue reading “The Magical Red Forest”

Hydrangeas: Gateway To A Life Of Crime

I have a confession to make. Although my job is to write about ingenious ways people commit murder and mayhem, when it comes to obsessing about how I’d commit the perfect crime, it always ends up with hydrangeas. Yes, hydrangeas. To be more specific, hydrangea smuggling. Because before I went to Japan, I never dreamed that the humble fluffballs flanking granny’sContinue reading “Hydrangeas: Gateway To A Life Of Crime”

Where To See The Most Gorgeous Peonies In Tokyo

If you’ve never walked among peonies that stand shoulder-high, with flowers as big as your head, get thee to these Tokyo gardens right now and prepare to be amazed! NISHIARAI-DAISHI TEMPLE Admission: FreeHours: 6:00 – 18:00 • UENO TOSHOGU SHRINE Admission: ¥700Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 • HAMA-RIKYU GARDEN Admission: ¥300Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 •

Great Balls O’ Flowery Fluff: Tokyo’s Best Hydrangea Gardens

If someone says “hydrangeas” and you think “boring white puffballs,” you haven’t seen the outrageous ones in Tokyo yet! Here are my favorite hydrangea garden extravaganzas, and they’ll be blooming ’til the end of June, just sayin’… MINAMIYAMA HYDRANGEA MOUNTAIN in Musashi-itsukaichi As you can see, these are wild hydrangeas at their finest! The trail winds up a gully lined withContinue reading “Great Balls O’ Flowery Fluff: Tokyo’s Best Hydrangea Gardens”

Where To See The Best Iris Gardens In Tokyo

Fields of riotously blooming purple, blue & white iris? Yes, please! Here are the best places in Tokyo to see the iris extravaganzas of your dreams. HASEDERA TEMPLE in Kamakura Iris are at their peak in this garden from June 1-15 (lucky for you, it’s the same time you can also see their very famousContinue reading “Where To See The Best Iris Gardens In Tokyo”

Vast Carpets Of Lawn Cherries!

Outside of Japan, nobody has heard of shibazakura, but they should! Check out the rolling hills covered with pink flowers that bloom in the middle of May! (They’re actually a variety of phlox, so I’m guessing the “sakura” part of the name is a feeble-ish attempt to ride the coattails of Japan’s more famous flower season, but they DO deliverContinue reading “Vast Carpets Of Lawn Cherries!”

Flower Dream Strikes Again

Okay, it’s spring in Tokyo, so grit your teeth and strap on your martyr beanie, because it’s time to endure a higher than usual number of flower posts for a while! Today’s is some of the wild and weird stuff I saw last weekend at Flower Dream 2015, the floral design show that’s more likely to feature bark andContinue reading “Flower Dream Strikes Again”

The Best Places To See Late-Blooming Cherry Trees In Tokyo

Many a cherry blossom party has been thwarted by wacky weather or unavoidable business trips, but even if the gods throw a wrench into your best-laid plans, don’t despair! Late-blooming yaezakura come into their full glory after the regular sakura fade to black. The late-bloomers don’t deliver the big pink cloud thing in quite the same way, but I secretly think they’re much more beautifulContinue reading “The Best Places To See Late-Blooming Cherry Trees In Tokyo”

The Best SECRET Cherry Blossom Spots In Tokyo!

Cherry blossoms and crowds go together like long bathroom lines and hanami parties, but at these secret Tokyo spots, you can enjoy the pinkness without getting trampled, even at peak season! Here are my favorite places: • ARK HILLS New for 2019! Best time to go: It’s pretty uncrowded all the time but it’s best when theContinue reading “The Best SECRET Cherry Blossom Spots In Tokyo!”

Where To See The Best Plum Blossoms In Tokyo

I am a total, total sucker for plum blossoms. The flowers are much more beautiful than cherry blossoms up close, and you gotta admire that the damn things even bloom in the snow. I mean, they famously bloom in the snow (thousands of haiku can’t be wrong.) Here are my favorite places in Tokyo to see them,Continue reading “Where To See The Best Plum Blossoms In Tokyo”

Up To My Knees In A Vermilion Sea

As you may have guessed by now, in Japan no flower is safe from being planted together en masse, in order to deliver total sensory overload at the appointed moment. It’s no surprise that cherry blossoms, wisteria and azaleas all vie to attract record crowds as they burst into bloom, but who knew that lesser-known denizens have their ownContinue reading “Up To My Knees In A Vermilion Sea”

Gorgeous Japanese Hydrangeas

Remember those big white snowball-y bushes that bloomed next to Grandma’s porch all summer long? Believe it or not, those everyday flowers were where they started hybridizing to get these fancypants. Some temples in Japan have whole hillsides covered with so many varieties of hydrangea, you can’t count them. Here are a few: •

Peonies As Big As Dinner Plates!

Not to be outdone by the cherry blossoms, azaleas and wisteria, the peonies of Tokyo come into their glory in May and June! First the big boys, like these at the Hama-Rikyu Garden, then the lovely fragrant ones at Nishiarai Daishi Temple. If you’d like to visit the Hama-Rikyu Teien garden or Nishiarai Daishi temple orContinue reading “Peonies As Big As Dinner Plates!”

Yes, This Is One Wisteria Plant!

In case you need proof that “the harder a garden is to get to, the more spectacular it is,” look no further than Ashikaga Flower Park. Two solid hours from Tokyo by car (or two and a half hours hopping on and off four different trains), I didn’t believe any flowers could be worth the trip. But as youContinue reading “Yes, This Is One Wisteria Plant!”

Flower Dream Expo

You know how everybody thinks Japanese people sit around in their kimonos all day, arranging flowers into works of art? Well, they don’t. But when they do…it’s amazing. If you’re in Tokyo in April and you’d like to go to Flower Dream, check their website for more info. •

Cherry Blossoms Lit Up At Night: My Favorite Spots!

Oh no, don’t think you can put your feet up and flip some channels after the sun goes down during cherry blossom season – thanks to the current craze for “illuminations,” the ogling opportunities will seriously cut into your TV time. Here are my favorite nighttime viewing spots. Get thee to the nearest grove and give your camera aContinue reading “Cherry Blossoms Lit Up At Night: My Favorite Spots!”

The Godzilla Of Cherry Trees

Don’t let this big daddy sneak up on you in the dark! In Japan they don’t mess around when it comes to cherry trees. I saw this explosion of goodness last night at Rikugi-en garden in Tokyo, where they light up the all-powerful sakura until 9:00 every night during The Season. But this one isn’t the only monsterContinue reading “The Godzilla Of Cherry Trees”

Slaves Of Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum growers, You are the slaves Of chrysanthemums. I must admit I didn’t fully understand Basho’s haiku until I saw these astonishing examples of chrysanthemum husbandry at the Yushima Tenjin Shrine last weekend… If you’d like to visit the Yushima Shrine the next time you’re in Tokyo, visit my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’dContinue reading “Slaves Of Chrysanthemums”

The Secret Garden

Behind the long, boring building mostly known for blocking views of the pagoda at Senso-ji is the secret garden of Denpo-in. Within those walls is a serene retreat used by the priests for meditation, closed to the public except for a few days each year. But if you’re in Tokyo right now, woo hoo, it’sContinue reading “The Secret Garden”

So How Come Azaleas Are Chopped Liver?

Cherry blossoms are definitely the favorite child. Back in March, as The Season approached, the newspapers all breathlessly reported the movement of the pink tide from south to north, weather forecasts were read as anxiously as tea leaves in order to plan trips to cherry infested locations at the exact moment of full bloom, andContinue reading “So How Come Azaleas Are Chopped Liver?”