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”

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!”

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”

Where To See The Best Fall Leaves In Tokyo

I hope you’re all rested up from our cherry blossom death march last spring, because it’s time to strap on your camera and a couple of extra batteries to hunt down the best autumn leaves in Tokyo! Here are my picks, from momiji season through ginkgo: Arranged from earliest to latest: SHOWA KINEN PARK – Tachikawa TellContinue reading “Where To See The Best Fall Leaves In Tokyo”

Where To See The Best Chrysanthemums In Tokyo

These eye-popping exhibitions will change your opinion of those humble fall flowers forever! Here’s where to see the best chrysanthemums in Tokyo: • JINDAI BOTANICAL GARDEN Dates: October 25 – November 17th (2019) Admission: Adults: ¥500, Children: ¥250 • Dates: November 1-17 (2019) Admission: Free • YUSHIMA TENJIN SHRINE Dates: November 1-23 Admission: Free • SHINJUKU GYOUENContinue reading “Where To See The Best Chrysanthemums 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!”

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”

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”

Today’s Special Guest: Winter

Conveniently scheduled for a national holiday so hundreds of thousands of commuters wouldn’t be inconvenienced by trains that occasionally had to pause while snow and/or ice and/or tree limbs could be cleared from the tracks, this year’s 24 hours of winter did not disappoint! Snow bucketed down from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as theContinue reading “Today’s Special Guest: Winter”

Stealth Holidays Of Japan

Nooooo! How could it be Monday morning already? If I hide my head under the pillow, will it go away? Ugh, even through the pillow, I can hear the rain. Wow, I really, really, really, really don’t want to get out of bed. Or get packed onto a train full of snuffling commuters and wetContinue reading “Stealth Holidays Of Japan”

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?”

Just When You Think It’s Safe To Ditch The Muffler…

Yep, if the plum trees are blooming, that means a giant dump of snow is just around the corner. This particular dashing of spring hopes comes with such clocklike regularity in Japan that haiku masters use “plum blossom” when they’re actually talking about surviving life’s more bitter lessons. •