Nothing But Flowers

March 14th, 2016 by
Category: Events, Information, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing
Wild white flowers bloom above the green leafy brush of a mountain clearing

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing to see in Nagano, whose wide variety of climate and terrain is suitable for all sorts of beautiful flowers and plants. During Spring, fields bloom in dazzling shades of yellow, red, pink and purple as the white-capped Japanese Alps stand majestically in the distance. It’s a great time to visit Nagano’s sightseeing spots and enjoy its natural beauty.

Below are some of Nagano’s best and most beautiful orchards and gardens to visit during the Spring months. See some of Japan’s largest apricot orchards, azalea parks and more!

Northern Nagano

Anzu no Sato, Apricot Village
April 1st to April 17th, 2016

A blossoming apricot tree envelops the scene with beautiful pink petals. A carpet of pink blossoms sit in the background.

© The Chikuma City Tourism Association

Chikuma city’s Anzu no Sato is one of the largest apricot-growing areas in Japan, producing upwards of 660 tons of fruit a year. During early April, the apricot trees bloom with light-pink flowers as far as the eye can see. In Japanese, this spectacular view is called “Hitome Jumanbon,” or “One Look, One-hundred-thousand Branches.” Recently, even the Emperor and Empress of Japan have visited to see this one-of-a-kind orchard.

Towards the end of June and into mid-July, the trees bear fruit and you can pick apricots here.

While you’re here…

Make a stop in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen for hot springs, great food and a chance to see a geisha show.

Access

From Nagano station, take the Shinonoi line train to Yashiro station. From there, it’s 20 minute walk to the park.

During the Apricot festival, a temporary bus runs from Yashiro station every 30 to 40 minutes. Get off at the “Tenbodai” stop for the best view.


Iiyama Nanohana Festival
May 3rd to May 5th

A yellow carpet of nanohana flowers sits in the foreground while the Chikuma river and blue mountains fade away in the distance.

© The Iiyama City Tourism Association

The fields of Northern Nagano come alive with cheery nanohana (rapeseed) flowers during early May. In the distance, the Chikuma river gently shimmers and snow is still visible on the mountain tops. During the Nanohana festival, guests can enjoy traditional Japanese taiko drum performances, mochi-making experiences and more.

While you’re here…

Access

From Iiyama station, take the Nagano Dentetsu Nozawa line bus and get off at the “Yu no Iriso Iriguchi” stop, somwhere between the Nakamura and Sekisawa stops.


Obuse Chikuma River (Sakura & Nanohana Collaboration)
Late April to mid-May

Several children run through a maze carved into the bright yellow field of Nanohana flowers. Pink cherry trees and mountains can be seen in the distance

The Chikuma Riverside park is filled with beautiful, bright-yellow Nanohana flowers and over 500 cherry and peach blossom trees. During full-bloom, enjoy delicate sakura, vibrant pink hanamomo and cheery nanohana flowers together while relaxing under a calm blue sky.

While you’re here…

The nearby town of Obuse has plenty of other attractions to whittle away the day, including museums featuring the famous artist Katsushika Hokusai (creator of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”), stone-paved streets lined with traditional Japanese buildings, and numerous chic cafes and restaurants. See this digital pamphlet for more information.

Access

From Nagano station, take the Nagano Dentetsu train line to Obuse station and walk 25 minutes to your destination.

The Suwa Region

Tsurumine Park Azalae Festival
Mid to Late May

Bright Azaleas in reds, greens and light purples cover a small hill in Tsurumine park.

© The Okaya City Tourism Association

This park in Okaya city is Central Japan’s No. 1 Azalea sightseeing spot with an incredible number of 30,000 flowering azalea bushes. There are over 30 varieties ranging in colors from subdued reds and purples to bright pinks and blues. The vibrant, well-manicured bushes echo the whimsical landscapes of Dr. Seuss.

How did this small city in Nagano come to have so many azaleas, you ask? The story goes that many years ago, the park tried to purchase a paltry 300 azaleas.The nursery in Saitama made a mistake and ended up sending three full freight trucks instead. With no option to return them, villagers had no choice but to plant all of them in the park.

While you’re here…

  • Visit Okaya city’s silk museum, Silkfact Okaya. The area prospered during the Edo period as a silk-producing town, and now Nagano prefecture is the only area in Japan that still has all of the facilities necessary to produce silk. The museum is adjoined to an actual factory, so visitors can see silk manufacturing in action and interact with live silk worms.
  • Go for a sake pub crawl through the Suwa area’s five famous breweries.
  • See one of Japan’s most unique festivals, the once-in-seven-year Onbashirasai.

Access

From Nagano station, take the Wide view Shinano train to Shiojiri station and change to the JR Chuo line (towards Tokyo). Get off at Okaya station (about 75 min.). From Shinjuku, take the Limited Express Azusa train to Okaya station (158 min.).

The park is 5 minutes from the station by taxi.

The Kiso Valley

Nagiso Mitsuba-tsutsuji Festival in Tenbaku park
Mid April

Purplish pink Azalea trees flower in a wooded park in the Kiso Valley

Just a 10-minute walk from Nagiso station is a garden of several hundred pink flowering azaleas. They only bloom for a short time in mid-April, during which tea shops and stalls sell Kiso specialty snacks and souvenirs. A memorial hall dedicated to the “King of Electricity,” Momosuke Fukusawa, can be found in the park, as well as an elegant suspension bridge in his name.

While you’re here…

The Kiso Valley is famous for the Nakasendo trail, an Edo-period highway connecting Kyoto and Edo (now Toyko), and one of its most well-preserved post towns is nearby. There are many great walking trails and hikes in the area, and you’ll be sure to see plenty of other spring colors while you’re here as well.

Access

From Nagano station, take the Wide View Shinano train line to Kisofukushima station, then change to the JR Chuo train line (towards Nagoya) and get off at Nagiso station (about 150 min.). From there, it’s a ten minute walk to the park.

Southern Nagano

Hirugami Onsen Hanamomo no sato
Mid April to early May

Rows of bright pink and red peach blossom trees line a small, grassy path.

In early April, these peach blossoms burst forth in shades of red, white and pink and cover a vast area between the Kiso and Ina valleys. Route 256, the road that runs between them, is lined with several thousand peach blossom trees. You can enjoy these flowers as you drive on by, or spend the night in the nearby hot spring town, Hirugami Onsen.

While you’re here…

  • Take a dip in Hirugami Onsen’s hot spring baths. Only recently discovered, the waters of Hirugami are highly alkaline (9.6pH), and cleanse the skin while relieving aching muscles and joints. Visitors praise it as one of the best places to soak away fatigue.
  • Spend a romantic evening under the night sky in Star Village Achi. The season begins from April 16th and continues until mid-October. Learn about this and other area activities here.

Access

From Nagano station, take the Wide View Shinano train line to Shiojiri station and change to the JR Chuo line for Tatsuno station. From there, take the JR Iida train line to Iida station (total 240 min.). To reach Hirugami Onsen, take a bus from JR Iida Station. From Nagoya station, a direct bus to Hirugami Onsen is available called the Hirugami Onsen liner.

From Hirugami Onsen, a bus runs to the Hanamomo park 3 times a day. Reserve a seat in advance through your local hotel (1200 yen round-trip).


Shinshu Ina Baien
Early April to early May

White and Red plum blossoms flower over a wide field with a beautiful view of the Japanese alps in the distance

Shinshu Ina Baien is Japan’s No. 1 plum orchard, home to over 7000 plum trees in 38 different varieties. White and red plum blossoms bloom in early April, and weeping peach and cherry blossoms follow them around May. All the while, the park has panoramic views of the Central and Southern Japanese alps. In June, visitors can try picking their own plums here.

While you’re here…

See one of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spots: Takato Castle park.

Visit Miharashi Farm, a kid-friendly agricultural experience park. Fruit picking, cooking lessons and plenty of other activities are available in this expansive tourist center.

Access

Get off the JR Iida line train at Matsushima station. The park is 10 minutes by taxi.

More flowers…

There are a variety of beautiful blossoms to see in Nagano during the Spring months, many of which are on a scale that you can’t see anywhere else! If you read this far, you may also be interested in reading our article about cherry blossoms if you haven’t found it already. If you can’t make it to Nagano this Spring, don’t fret! Stay tuned for more information about Summer flowers and Fall foliage in the coming months.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any suggestions for new blog posts, please send us a message at go-nagano@pref.nagano.lg.jp!

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