Azalea Monomiyama Park – In the last week of March (2020) I brought the kids to Monomiyama Park in Higashimatsuyama for an off the beaten path hanami. The cherry blossoms in the park are beautiful, but as they are in quite a remote location (although close to the children’s zoo) and aren’t particularly renowned I knew there would be few people there.
Sure enough, there was only three other people there in the whole time we enjoyed a secluded hanami. The park does attract hundreds in the months of April and May for its acclaimed azalea. On JALAN they rank 24th in Saitama’s most scenic floral spots in the month of April. Considering that “floral” includes cherry blossoms and moss phlox, that is a pretty high ranking.
Azalea Monomiyama Park
We were pleasantly surprised on the day we visited, March 30th 2020, that some of the azalea were already in bloom. It was a cloudy day so the photos didn’t turn out that well unfortunately, but the azalea with the sakura looked so beautiful.
We have visited the park to see the Azalea in previous years too. Last week there was only a small percentage of the flowers in bloom. There are 40,000 azalea in total in the park. They are red, pink and purple. They normally bloom from mid April until just after Golden Week. Like all seasonal blooms this year they are early and will probably finish up early too.
Usually there is a azalea festival in the month of April or early May, but this year the festival will not go ahead because of the Coronavirus. There are two other spots in Higashimatsuyama that also usually have a flower festival, for their peonies not azalea. See April Flowers Higashimatsuyama below.
Monomiyama was initially a viewpoint. They developed a park around it in recent years. It is also part of a larger (4,638 hectares!) park, the “Prefectural Hiki Nature Park” or what we might call a nature reserve in English. Some of the park’s flora and fauna is newly planted, but they also worked with a lot of the nature that has been in existence for hundreds of years. The result: a park that has made a mark for its scenery.Source: Stunning Monomiyama Park
There are plenty of places where you can sit and enjoy the view dotted throughout the park. And it is a spectacular view. The area of Iwadono where the park (and zoo) are located is quite hilly, but Monomiyama is the highest point in the area at 135 meters. It affords great views of Higashimatsuyama and Northern and Easter Saitama prefecture as well. It is a good viewing location for fireworks in the area too.
The park has little in it in way of facilities or services, which is actually useful in this time of Covid-19. It does have toilets and a vending machine at the main pedestrian entrance from route 212. There are some tunnels made from flower rows, that children can enjoy exploring. There are water features in the base of the valley of the park, which are very picturesque and in summer you can see children wading through the river.
The park is adjacent to and connected to the Peace Museum by hiking trails. You can see the observation tower of the peace museum from the top of the park. The museum is only a short walk from the top of the mountain to the peace museum. You wouldn’t need a lot of time in the park, but if you combine a visit with the peace museum and the ethereal Shoboji on the far side of the road, you can spend a relaxing half day in the area.
The park is very picturesque at other times of the year too. The park is well known for its autumn scenery in November annually. There are hydrangea too in the park which typically bloom in June. It is popular not only with hikers, but cyclists too. There is a bike rack by the main entrance, where the toilets and vending machines are, there is also an Udon restaurant there.
April flowers Higashimatusyama
Higashimatsuyama City (Saitama Prefecture, Japan) is quite well known for April flowers in general. Monomiyama Park is one of three famous flower spots in the city. The other two are peony parks: Botanen Park, which is the most child friendly of the three, and Yakyu Inari aka the baseball shrine.
Other attractions in the area
Find somewhere to eat in the area:
Information in English for 14 restaurants in the Iwadono area of Higashimatsuyama from Tabelog (I have no affiliation to this website).
Information in English for restaurants in Higashimatsuyama from Gurunavi (I have no affiliation to this company).
Monomiyama Park Information
|Address:||241-17 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065|
|Hours:||The park is open 24 hours. Car park hours are not specified.|
|Cost:||Free and free parking|
|Online:||Official web page|
Access Azalea Monomiyama
By public transport: a bus goes from Takasaka Station on the Tobu Tojo Line. Take a bus for Daito Bunka University and alight at the university and walk to the park. It is a ten minute walk uphill, but double that if you are pushing a buggy or have children walking with you.
By car: the park is on the same road that the main entrance to the zoo is on, route 212. You pass the zoo and Daito Bunka University if you are coming from the direction of downtown Higashimatsuyama going toward Hatoyama.
By highway you can use either the Higashimatsuyama or Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange exits on the Kanetsu expressway. Please note that you must have an ETC card to use the latter, Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange, exit.
The main car park is actually on the far side of the road to the viewpoint and park. It is free. You can also park in the very small parking area for Shoboji Temple which is also on the opposite side of the road, but there is a zebra crossing right at this car park. Lastly, you can park at the Peace Museum and take the scenic walk in from the back of the park.