Autumn and winter flowers in Japan
What flowers to admire this winter in Japan?
We often think of sunny days when we talk about flowers, but what about winter? In Japan, flowers grow year-round. Famous for the sakura in spring and sunflowers during the summer, the end of the year is also very favorable for hanami, the contemplation of flowers. Chrysanthemums, lycoris, and other beautiful flowers all bloom later in the year. Discover five flowers that only bloom from September in Japan.
Chrysanthemums (September to November)
Introduced from China in the fifth century, the chrysanthemum is today symbol nobility and longevity in Japan. It is the Emblem of the Imperial Family, and the Chrysanthemum Seal is also on all Japanese passports that it flourishes with grace. It is venerated in all four corners of the country, and its finest specimens give rise to pruning competitions in the temples and gardens of Japan.
The yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes the Imperial Family; however, there are several varieties of chrysanthemum whose colors and shapes all differ from each other and are used differently. For example, some species are only cultivated for bonsai or to decorate the rooms for tea ceremonies.
Where to see chrysanthemums in Japan?
In Tokyo, it is in Shinjuku-gyoen where you go to admire the chrysanthemums. Every October, there is a festival dedicated to the chrysanthemum exhibited in the heart of the Japanese garden. In Kyoto, it is at the Kamigamo shrine that the imperial flower displays the most beautiful colors.
- Shinjuku-Gyoen (Tokyo)
Itinerary: a stone's throw from Shinjuku-gyoenmae station (Marunouchi line)
Hours and prices: every day from 9 a.m to 5.30 p.m, 500 yen entry (US $4.77)
- Kamigamo (Kyoto)
Directions: 18min by bus from Kitayama station (Karasuma line), Kamigamo-jinjamae stop
Hours and prices: daily from 5:30 a.m to 5 p.m, free
Red lycoris (October)
This flower is closely connected to the Buddhist religion, red lycoris or 'spider lily', which translates as 'flowers from heaven'. Today they bloom around water, and give rise to magnificent festivals while awaiting the arrival of momiji.
Where to see red lycoris in Japan?
The Kinchakuda Lycoris Festival is arguably the most popular Kanto event when it comes to admiring spider lilies. With more than 5 million plants, come and enjoy its vibrant red tones while savoring the best street food dishes.
- Kinchakuda Lycoris Festival (Saitama)
Directions: 15 minutes walk from Koma station (Seibu-Ikebukuro line)
Hours and prices: daily from 8 a.m to 5 p.m from the end of September to mid-October, 300 yen (US $2.86)
Winter cherry trees (October to December)
While sakura delight the Japanese (and travelers) in the spring, they also delight the crowds in the winter. From the end of October, several varieties of cherry are growing all over Japan. When the deep red of momiji meets the pale pink of sakura, it is a nice contrast of colors that emerges at the end of the year.
Where to see cherry blossoms in winter in Japan?
In Tokyo, it is once again the Shinjuku-gyoen park that provides the most beautiful displays. There are two different times to experience this; the first is in October when the first variety of sakura blooms, followed by a second at the end of November. In Kyoto, the best place to visit is Jikko-in temple to admire the subtle encounter between blushing maples and cherry blossoms.
Tree peonies (November to February)
While peonies grow mainly in spring, some Japanese varieties do grow in winter. Including peonies, they were imported to Japan in the eighth century by Buddhist monks from China.
Called fuyu botan (winter peonies), they are now found all over the country. Starting with Kyoto, since the city has used them to symbolize culture.
Where to see peonies in Japan?
Several Kyoto gardens are prized for their winter peonies, including the Takeda Botanical Garden, where peonies have long been used for medicinal purposes.
Around the old capital, in Sekkoji, in the city of Nara, you will find the most beautiful flowers this winter. For Tokyo, the best place to visit is the Ueno Toshogu shrine shrine at the end of January when there is a peony festival.
- Takeda Garden for the Conservation of Medicinal Plants (Kyoto)
Directions: 15-minute walk from Shugakuin station (Eizan Line)
Times and prices: information and reservations email this address (Takeda_Garden@takeda.co.jp)
- Sekko-ji (Nara)
Directions: a few minutes walk from Nijojinjaguchi station (Kinsetsu-Minamiosaka line)
- Ueno Toshogu (Tokyo)
Directions: 10 minutes on foot from Ueno Hirokoji station (Ginza line)
Hours and prices: every day from 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m, free
Japanese daffodils (December to January)
Introduced from China during the Muromachi period (1333-1573), the Japanese narcissus (known as nihon suisen) is an essential winter flower in Japan. Particularly in the south of the country, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, where the daffodils bloom as soon as the temperatures drop.
Where to see Japanese daffodils in winter?
Awaji Island, south of Kobe, is especially popular in January for its daffodils. With its famous Nada-Kuroiwa Narcissus Field, which sees more than 50,000 flowers blooming every year. In Nagasaki, the best place to visit is Suisen no Sato park, which displays several winter varieties.
- Awaji Tachikawa Narcissus Farmland (Awaji)
Itinerary: two hours by bus from Sannomiya station (Tokaido-sanno line)
Hours and prices: every day from 9 a.m to 5 p.m, 500 yen (US $4.77)
- Suisen no Sato (Nagasaki)
Directions: One hour by bus from Nagasaki station (Nagasaki Electric Tramway line)