Begonia are called “Shukaido” in Japanese, ‘a flower that blooms in Autumn’. As such they are a harbinger of Autumn. I went to visit my favorite spot for begonia on September 1st, 2021, to welcome Autumn. I was on my break from blogging at the time (haha) so I didn’t get this post out in time for 2021, as they are starting to wither now. Just in time for “Shubun no Hi” or the Autumnal Equinox, a national holiday in Japan, which is tomorrow, September 23rd. While Shukaido is associated with the start of Autumn on the old calendar, spider lilies are specifically associated with the autumnal equinox. Which marks the end of early Autumn and the start of “shubun”. While the begonia start to wither, the spider lilies come into full bloom around the autumn equinox.
Uncharacteristically when I visited the begonia in the Hiki District on September 1st, it was a real Autumn day. No humidity, cool almost cold and a soft refreshing rainfall. I say uncharacteristically, because typically September in Japan is just an extension of hot and humid August. Ironically though, in the old calendar Autumn started in July in Japan. What I do like about September normally, is that the nights cool down even though the days are still hot. What I really love about this September, is that it has been cool even during the daytime.
Begonia Colonies Saitama
In the Hiki District of Saitama Prefecture, we actually have two large begonia colonies. The one in Tokigawa town is better known, but in my personal opinion, the one in Ogawa town is much nicer. The reason I prefer it is that you can actually walk among the begonia in Ogawa Town, which you can’t do in Tokigawa. Particularly this year, 2021, as they put up nets around the base of the display. It maybe to keep humans out, but its most likely its to keep the other wild animals out!
Begonia, Ogawa Town
The begonia in Ogawa town bloom at a moon waiting stone. The moon waiting stone was first, the begonia were added later! Possibly to create more interest and / or awareness in a tradition that is rarely practiced in modern day Japan. Its really fascinating how the various intricacies of Japanese culture, customs and even their old calendar fit together. The one at Ogawa is a 22nd night moon waiting stone. The 22nd night refers to the 22nd night of a moon cycle. There are quite a few 23rd night towers or stones / monuments dotted around Japan, but 22nd night is less common. The 22nd night is particularly associated with child birth and as such, women typically gathered on the 22nd night to wait for the moon to rise.
Location: Koshigoe, Ogawa town, Saitama.
Date: generally late August or early September to about the end of the third week in September.
Parking: free parking right across the road from the 22nd night moon stone
By public transport: its about a 12 minute taxi ride from Ogawamachi station.
Facilities: apart from a small shelter, which looks like it was once a bus stop, there are no facilities, not even a toilet.
Online: No official website, but the Ogawa Town official tourism website has a couple of sentences in Japanese about the location!