Today I visited the beautiful Ashikaga Flower Park, north-east of Tokyo, to see the Wisteria vines in flower. I’ve just missed the cherry blossom season on this trip, but the Wisterias are almost as impressive.
There are two big Wisteria gardens in Japan - Kawachi Fuji-en and the Ashikaga Flower Park. The Kawachi gardens are probably the most well known to international tourists because that’s where the photographs of the famous Wisteria tunnels are taken, but it’s a long way from Tokyo on the southern island of Kyushu. To get there you need to fly or take a bullet train, which takes about 6 hours. But the Ashikaga Flower Park can be easily done in a day trip from Tokyo.
Just take any main-line train or bullet train to Oyama, which is 1-2 hours out of Tokyo, and then a local train on the Ryomo Line from Oyama to Tomita (don’t go to Ashikaga Station because that’s the next one along, and is further away from the gardens). The local trains on that line run every hour.
Get off at Tomita Station and walk to the main road (a short distance) and turn right. Walk down the main road about 750 meters and you will see the entrance to the gardens on the left. At this time of the year, the train is full of people visiting the gardens, so all you have to do is follow the crowd.
As will be seen from the photos below (click on the images to enlarge), there are Wisterias all over the gardens from vines that look like trees because they are over 140 years old, to young specimens in tubs that are beautiful in their own way. The oldest Wisterias in Japan are in these gardens, and one covers almost 2,000 square metres.
These gardens have many other flowering plants, and strolling through them is a very relaxing way to spend a springtime afternoon. There are excellent facilities in the gardens including restaurants and snack bars, and even an ice cream parlour selling Wisteria ice cream.