Shinjuku Gyoen Kiku and Roses 新宿御苑 菊とバラ

28 01 2011

Ogiku Chrysanthemums

Ogiku Chrysanthemums

Kiku 菊 (Chrysanthemum) are another symbol of Japan, particularly the Imperial Family, and the Imperial Family’s Chrysanthemum crest can found all over Japan on buildings, and even on the Japanese passport. Fittingly, the Imperial Family Household holds a Kiku Exhibition in Shinjuku Gyoen from November 1st to 15th.

The exhibition not only gives you a chance to see some beautiful and unusual varieties of Kiku and traditional ways to display them, but also coincides with autumn roses (‘bara’ バラ in Japanese) flowering in the French garden, and the start of leaves turning to their autumn colours all over the park. Entrance to the park is 200 yen, and it can be accessed from Shinjuku-gyoenmae Station (1-2 minute walk), Shinjuku-sanchome Station (3-5 minute walk), Shinjuku Station South Exit (10 minute walk), Sendagaya Station (5 minute walk), and Kokuritsu-kyogijo Station (5 minute walk).

Here are a few photos I took on November 13th.

A traditional Ozukuri bed of Kiku

A traditional Ozukuri bed of Kiku

Edo Variety of Kiku, which changes in appearance as it opens

Edo Variety of Kiku, which changes in appearance as it opens

Ichimonji variety of Kiku, from which the Imperial Family crest is inspired

Ichimonji variety of Kiku, from which the Imperial Family crest is inspired

Fallen autumn leaves

Fallen autumn leaves

Cream Delight Rose

Cream Delight Rose

More photos can be seen in my flickr set.





Cosmos コスモス

12 11 2010

Pink Cosmos

Pink Cosmos

Cosmos コスモス are another flower that can be seen here and there in Japan, but also en masse in specially planted fields. They can bloom as early as late September, but usually peak around mid October, and last until the end of the month.

There are many places with special Cosmos fields, so you can probably find something close to where you are.

This year I went to Washinomiya 鷲宮, in Saitmama 埼玉県, which is on the Tobu Isezaki Line 東部伊勢崎線, or also accessible from Higashi Washinomiya 東鷲宮 on the JR Utsunomiya line 宇都宮線. Washinomiya’s Cosmos Fureai Road コスモスふれあいロード follows a river for 12km, and is lined by over 8 million plants, so it’s makes quite a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll. They also hold a festival during the peak season (usually a weekend mid October) at the Washinomiya Town Office 鷲宮市役場.

All the pretty colours

All the pretty colours

Along the Cosmos Fureai Road

Along the Cosmos Fureai Road

Red Cosmos Flower

Red Cosmos Flower

To view my photos in larger sizes, please check out my Flickr set!





Hike – Mt Hiwada 日和田山

22 10 2010

Quick Overview

Spider Lilies

Spider Lilies

The trail to Mt Hiwada 日和田山 is very versatile, and can be used as a starting point to hike further into Chichibu 秩父, or as an easy walk back to Hanno Station 飯能駅 as described here.  If you are able to do the hike in late September, Kinchakuda 巾着田 has spectacular Spider Lilies before you head towards Koma Pass 高麗峠.  With plenty of shops and bathrooms in the area, and only a 300m high peak, this hike is perfect for families, or people wanting to have a stroll through nature.

Distance: 11km
Duration:  3 and a half hours
Difficulty: easy (very very!)
Season:  Suitable all year, maybe a little snow in winter months
Starting point:  Koma Station 高麗駅
Finishing point:  Hanno Station 飯能駅

Maps

A full map of the hike  can also be viewed at GPSies

There are a lot of different and interesting hikes in the Chichibu 秩父 area, so I recommend you buy a map, particularly if you are just using Mt Hiwada 日和田山 as a starting point.  The Mapple 山と高原地図 series number 22 map is of the Oku-Musahino 奥武蔵 and Chichibu 秩父 region, and is available on Amazon.co.jp.  Note, this map is in Japanese, but does include some English and furigana.

The Hike

Trail Marker for Mt Hiwada

Trail Marker for Mt Hiwada

From Koma Station 高麗駅 exit, turn right and follow the road under the train lines to the intersection.  Cross the road and keep going in approximately the same direction from the station down a small residential street. You will cross another road before the street turns to the left.  Keep following this road until you reach a main road, and turn right.  Cross the river and take the street up to the left at the next set of traffic lights.  If you need to pick up some supplies there is a 7-11 a little further down the main road.

Follow the road up to the left until you see the trail marker for Mt Hiwada 日和田山 (the 3rd street on the left).  Head up this street and where the street curves to the right you’ll see the trail heads for Mt Hiwada 日和田山.  There is also a rest area and bath rooms here.  It should only take about 15 minutes to reach this point.

While there are a few different trails you can start on, the main trail is on the right, and its the widest and most well-defined path.  Follow the trail up for about 10 minutes until you reach a stone Torii gate.  Here the path splits into two trails,  with the trail on the left being rocky and difficult (take caution if you use this trail), and the trail on the right being easy.

Continue up on the easy path for about 15 minutes and you will reach Kotahira Shrine 金刀比羅神社.  The Shrine is a good view-point, from which you can see views of Oku Chichibu 奥秩父, Oku Tama 奥多摩, and even Mt Fuji 富士山 on a good day.  To reach the summit, follow the trail on the right of the shrine, it should only take about 5 minutes to reach the top.

Looking at the view from Kotahira Shrine

From the summit you can continue on towards Mt Takasasu 高指山, Mt Monomi 物見山 and Musashi Yokote Station 武蔵横手駅, if you want to do more hiking in the mountains. Although in Japanese, this Seibu Website has more information about the hike to Mt Takasasu 高指山, and a map.  Otherwise, retrace your steps back down Mt Hiwada 日和田山 to the main road.  It should only take about 30 minutes to return.  

Once you reach the road, take the first road to the left (before crossing the bridge) and follow the river around to reach Kinchakuda 巾着田, a flower garden within a circular part of Koma River 高麗川.  During late September and early October the Spider Lilies should be in bloom, and there will be plenty of people about.

Aiai Bridge

Aiai Bridge

Entrance to Kinchakuda 巾着田 is 200 yen, and it will take about 40 minutes to walk from the entrance to the wooden Aiai Bridge あいあい橋 on the other side of the circle and then back to the concrete Do-Re-Me-Fa Bridge ドレミファ橋 in the middle of the circle.  Once you have strolled amongst the flowers, cross the Do-Re-Me-Fa Bridge ドレミファ橋 to exit Kinchakuda 巾着田 and start on the trail to Koma Pass 高麗峠 and Hanno station 飯能駅.

Follow the path up to the left until you reach a road.  Here there’s a marker pointing out the Musashino Nature Walking trail 武蔵野自然遊歩道 to Koma Pass 高麗峠.  Turn right, and the road will soon become trail again.  It should only take about 20 minutes to reach Koma Pass 高麗峠, where the trail splits.  If you head to the left the trail will take you round past Miyazawa Lake 宮沢湖 before going back to the Nakayama Nishi 中山西 Intersection, while the trail to the right heads straight to the same intersection.  It will only take about 20 minutes to come to the road if you use the direct trail.

Do-Re-Mi-Fa Bridge

Do-Re-Mi-Fa Bridge

One you leave the forest, cross the road at the Nakayama Nishi 中山西 intersection, and follow the road straight ahead.  As it curves to the left, there is another trail on the right, up a hill there towards Mt Tenran 天覧山 and Nonin Temple 能仁寺.  If you want to skip the temple keep to the road, and turn left at the second traffic lights.  Just follow the road sign pointing to Higashi Hanno Station 飯能駅.  Three traffic lights later turn right to go to Hanno Station 飯能駅 (again, there is a road sign pointing the way to the station).  At the end of the road you’ll come to Hanno Station 飯能駅.  It should take about 30 minutes from the turn off to Mt Tenran 天覧山 and Nonin Temple 能仁寺.

To and From

As always, the following routes are just recommendations.  Please use Hyperdia or Jorudan’s Train Route Finder to find the most suitable route for you!

From Seibu Ikebukuro Station 西武池袋駅 take the Seibu Ikebukuro line 西武池袋線 Rapid Express 快急 or Express 急行 bound for either Hanno 飯能 or Seibu Chichibu 西武秩父, if you catch a train bound for Hanno 飯能, you will need to transfer to a local train bound for Seibu Chichibu 西武秩父 at Hanno 飯能.  Get off the train at Koma Station 高麗駅, which is approximately 60 minutes and 510 yen from Ikebukuro 池袋.  The Seibu line also runs a Limited Express 特急 which will take you to Hanno station 飯能駅 in approximately 50 minutes, for an extra 410 yen.  If you catch the catch the Limited Express 特急 remember to change to a local train bound for Seibu Chichibu 西武秩父 at Hanno Station 飯能駅.

The return fare from Hanno Station 飯能駅 to Ikebukuro 池袋 is 450 yen, and takes 50 minutes on the Express 急行.

Links

Kinchakuda (Japanese) http://www.kinchakuda.com/

An alternate course to Musashi Yokote Station (in Japanese) http://www.hikingmap.jp/course/hiwadasan01.html and map http://www.hikingmap.jp/pdf/course_hiw.pdf

My Flickr photo set from Mt Hiwada http://www.flickr.com/photos/michelelisa/sets/72157624974213737/with/5053114941/

Map of hike on GPSies http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=huvzccgduxzseifd

Useful Kanji

Aiai Bridge あいあい橋
Chichibu 秩父
Do-Re-Me-Fa Bridge ドレミファ橋
Express 急行
Hanno Station 飯能駅
Kinchakuda 巾着田
Koma Pass 高麗峠
Koma River 高麗川
Koma Station 高麗駅
Kotahira Shrine 金刀比羅神社
Ikebukuro 池袋
Miyazawa Lake 宮沢湖
Mt Fuji 富士山
Mt Hiwada 日和田山
Mt Monomi 物見山
Mt Takasasu 高指山
Mt Tenran 天覧山
Musashino Shizen Walking trail 武蔵野自然遊歩道
Musashi Yokote Station 武蔵横手駅
Nakayama Nishi 中山西
Nonin Temple 能仁寺
Oku Chichibu 奥秩父
Oku-Musahino 奥武蔵
Oku Tama 奥多摩
Rapid Express 快急
Seibu Ikebukuro line 西武池袋線
Seibu Ikebukuro Station 西武池袋駅
Seibu Chichibu 西武秩父
Limited Express 特急





Kinchakuda Manjushage 巾着田の曼珠沙華

9 10 2010
Manjushage

Manjushage

Manjushage 曼珠沙華, or Spider Lilies, bloom in late September to early October. They can be spotted in small numbers in gardens and green areas around Tokyo, and are quite beautiful, but are spectacular en masse.

Kinchakuda 巾着田 is about one hour out from Ikebukuro on the Seibu Ikebukuro line and the Seibu Chichibu line, and is accessible from Koma Station 高麗駅. It is a flower field on the inside of a river that almost curves around 360 degrees, and has over a million blooms in red and a few in white. It also has a small field of Cosmos コスモス that bloom around the same time, and a number of hikes and walks in the area.  Entrance to the park is 200yen.  More details about Kinchakuda 巾着田 can be found on the official website (Japanese only).

A guide to hiking the nearby Mt Hiwata and Koma Pass is also coming soon.

Here are a few photos from my visit to the field on October 2nd 2010.

White Manjushage

White Manjushage

Kinchakuda

Kinchakuda

Manjushage and Koma River

Manjushage and Koma River

Red Manjushage

Red Manjushage

For more photos of Manjushage check out my set at Flickr!





Shibazakura 芝桜

11 09 2010
Shibazakura

Shibazakura

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.

Shibazakura

Shibazakura

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 –

Pink Moss carpets

Pink Moss carpets

But the light pink flowers were still looking good –

Light Pink blossoms

Light Pink blossoms

And other flowers were in bloom –

Wisteria

Wisteria

Lupins

Lupins

Poppies

Poppies

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby Blue Eyes

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!





Yozakura 夜桜

14 08 2010
Sakura and Paper Lantern

Sakura and Paper Lantern

Sakura 桜 (Cherry Blossom) are beautiful no matter what time of day you view them, but there are a number of places in and around Tokyo that also have night ‘Illuminations’ of the blossoms.

There is even a special word for cherry blossoms in the evening – Yozakura 夜桜 (literally ‘night cherry blossoms’).  The illuminations range from the whole trees being spotlighted, to the more traditional, with lanterns hanging amongst the branches.

Toshimaen, Tokyo

Toshimaen Sakura Illumination

Toshimaen Sakura Illumination

Toshimaen is an ‘old school’ amusement park in Nerima with whole tree spotlights.  Normally there is an entrance fee to the park, but during the Sakura season, entrance from about 4pm becomes free for the night-time illumination.  In fact, inside and out of the park are a lot of Sakura trees, and the area is quite beautiful in spring (but then, I might be bias, I used to live there).

Kita Koshigaya

Lanterns and path

Lanterns and path

Sakura at Dusk

Sakura at Dusk

These photos are taken at Kita Koshigaya, a place I mentioned in my last Sakura post, from dusk to darkness.  Kita Koshigaya’s Illumination is more of the traditional kind, with paper lanterns.  You might notice on each lantern something different is written, these are the names of the people or the company that ‘sponsors’ the lantern.  It’s quite pretty, but also very hard to photo (especially on a windy evening)!

Blossoms in the dark

Blossoms in the dark

To see these photos in full, or see a few more not shown here, please check out my flickr set! Enjoy the flowers!





sugary, flowery, photo!spam

13 07 2010

As I mentioned in my ‘good ‘cherry’ hunting’ post, the Japanese sweet factory Kikyoya that we visited has a very impressive museum of sugar flowers.  Now, to be honest, I’m not sure if these were all made by hand, or if they are all made of sugar, but I’m positive they would have to have been put together by hand and would have taken a long time to make.

So, firstly we have some purple and white flowers –

and a close up –

isn’t the detail amazing?

Irises –

Bamboo shoots –

Gourds –

A hydrangea bush –

and a close up of the hydrangeas –

Imagine sticking all those flowers together!!!

And lastly, probably my favourite, autumn leaves –

although this next close up isn’t from the tree above, it’s kinda similar, being an omikuji (fortune) tied to a branch of autumn leaves –

Of course this is only a few of the photos I’ve taken, so if you’d like to see more please head on over to my flickr set!  It includes fish, cosmos, lilies, snow covered grass, wisteria, cherry blossoms and more!