A literal translation of Shibazakura is ‘lawn cherry blossom’, and although it isn’t actually cherry blossom (in fact, Shibazakura is known as Pink Moss, or Mountain Phlox, in english) it certainly creates a beautiful carpet of whites, pinks and blues, that lives up to the beauty of cherry blossoms.
In Japan, Shibazakura tends to bloom just in time for Golden Week, the first week of May, but only peaks for about a week in low lying areas. Higher altitudes can extend the time of the ‘carpet’ effect a little longer.
Nearby Tokyo there are three areas that are particularly famous for Shibazakura – Chichibu, Kawaguchi-ko , and Tatebayashi. Each of these places has their own particular charm. Chichibu’s Hitsujiyama boasts over 400,000 plants, in 9 different varieties. The Fuji Shibazakura Festival site near Kawaguchi-ko has beautiful views of Mt Fuji. And the Yachonomori Gardens in Tatebayashi has a variety of different gardens with a huge number of various trees and plants. Tatebayashi also has the advantage of being close to the Tsutsujigaoka (Azalea Hill) park which also blooms around Golden Week, and a Children’s Day festival held during the same week with large carp streamers lining a river nearby.
Although I didn’t have the opportunity to visit any of these places during Golden Week, I managed to visit Tatebayashi Yachonomori Gardens a few weeks later. The Gardens are a short 20 minute walk from Morinjimae Station on the Tobu Isezaki Line (bound for Tatebayashi).
Unfortunately I was too late for the carpets of pink flowers –
But the light pink flowers were still looking good –
And other flowers were in bloom –
So, even if you miss the peak of the Shibazakura, Yachonomori still has something for flower lovers.
You can check out more of my photos on Flickr!