winter peony display at Higashimatsuyama Peony Garden in 2023

Information for the winter and spring peonies and other seasonal flowers and events at Botanen, Higashimatsuyama. However, the peony festival information was moved to its own post, as this post was too long with that information included!

Botanen Park in Higashimatsuyama is was the largest peony garden in all of Japan for many years. But they’ve lost about 1500 peony in the last couple of years. There was 6500 peony in the garden’s prime, but now there are only about 5000. I don’t know why. But unfortunately I don’t think they can claim to be Japan’s largest anymore, but it is still Saitama’s largest! However, more than just a peony garden, it is also a small park with several things to offer. In recent years, the winter peony have drawn more visitors. Information for the winter peony and other events at the park included in this post.

Botanen Park

  • Introduction
  • Winter flowers and winter peony event
  • Spring peonies and flowers
    • The (Spring) Peony Festival information has been moved to its own post.
  • Summer flowers
  • Autumn colors
  • Playground
  • Barbecue
  • Events
    • Halloween 2023
  • Information

Botanen Park is located in Higashimatsuyama, but on the border of Namegawa. The park is only a five minute drive from Shinrin Park (aka Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park). It is not a particularly large park, you could walk the circumference in 20 minutes. More than being on a hill, the park is actually sloped. The entrance is at the bottom. The playground and barbecue are at the “top”. Until, around 2017 the park really only attracted people during the peony season. However, they have gone to great lengths over the last four years in particular, to make it more appealing all through the year.

Winter flowers

Wintersweet

The wintersweet in the park are still quite young, but they are starting to get some height this year. Wintersweet are a bright yellow flower with a strong sweet aroma. They bloom in January. There aren’t that many in Botanen, but enough for their perfume to fill the air. At a guess there are about 30. They are along the west side of the park, where there is also some winter peony.

Winter peony 2024

Winter peony flowers Botanen Higashimatsuyama
Winter peony at Higashimatsuyama annually in January

The winter peony are a relatively new addition to the flora in the park. They bloom for just two weeks in January. They were especially cultivated to be able to bloom in cold weather. There are about 40 on display of which about 30 are decorated with yukigakoi. Yukigakoi are a bamboo guard to protect flowers and shrubs from snow. Ironically, we rarely get snow in Saitama. And if we do get it, its generally in February. However, they also protect the flowers from the wind and add a bit of warmth. Moreover, they are very picturesque! The Yukigakoi will be displayed with the peony from January 13th to 28th 2024 and can be viewed between 10 am and 3 pm. This year they have a couple of new features, including wagasa Japanese parasols.


Spring Flowers

Botanen is at its best in spring, when the 6,500 5000 peony come into bloom. Generally, they bloom from around mid April to the end of Golden Week. According to the Higashimatsuyama City official website, Botanen is the largest peony garden in Japan. I don’t think anyone disputes that it was at one point, but since they lost about 1500 peonies in the last couple of years, I am not sure it is still the largest. It is not the only peony spot in Higashimatsuyama. Another popular spot for viewing the peony in the city is at the “baseball shrine”, Yakyu Inari.

Peony at Botanen Higashimatsuyama

There is an observation deck in the middle of the peonies, so you can get a good view and photo from above. In winter, you can actually see Mt Fuji from the observation deck, although its about 160 kilometers away! During the period of bloom they have an acclaimed Peony Festival…

Botanen Peony Festival 2024 (Spring)


Summer

There are three small hydrangea displays in the park in summer, but they are very picturesque. Here, Shoboji and Shimonuma park are the three main hydrangea flower spots in Higashimatsuyama. However, please note that the park is very hot in the summer months and there is very limited shade throughout the park.

Autumn

There are a few October cherry blossoms in the park. They generally bloom in late Autumn, but I’ve seen them bloom out of season in January too. There are some autumn colors too as the park has some maple trees.


Botanen Playground

Botanen playground at Japan's largest peony garden in Higashimatsuyama Saitama Prefecture

This post was originally written about the “new” playground when it opened in 2017. But a lot has changed since then, so I added all this extra information (2021) and republished the post. The playground is over three years old now and enjoyed by hundreds of kids weekly! It is the biggest free playground in Higashimatsuyama city. However, during the peony festival you have to pay to get in the park. (The playgrounds in the zoo are larger, but you have to pay into the zoo to use them).

Botanen playground and park higashimatsuyama

There is one large combination piece, with another smaller one in front. There are a number of slides, one of which is a windy tunnel slide and another a roller slide. The roller slide has plastic sleighs beside it that you can use freely to protect your bum as you come down the slide!


Barbecue

The barbecue area was added last year (2020). Its still (in 2021) only run as an event seasonally. However, they have put in a lot of facilities so it may become more readily available in the future. The area, which has decking and a terrace with picnic tables also, can currently be used freely. You can see in the photo below, that they have the taps for sinks wrapped up and no basins yet. Watch this space! There is a couple of drink vending machines in this area.

BBQ area at Botanen Higashimatsuyama

Events

I think one of the main reasons the park has become more popular is all the fantastic events they put on. Particularly for kids, but they have events for adults too, such as park yoga. They have at least one event every month. Some of the events are physical activities such as playing in a large pool of leaves or playing with handmade toys. Others are more visual such as performances on the outdoor stage. The official blog (linked below) gives a list of upcoming events.

Halloween 2023

Trick or treat Botanen Happy Halloween for parents and kids in Higashimatsuyama

They have a nice Halloween event planned for Sunday October 29th 2023, from 11 am to 2 pm. They will have some live music, children’s presents and workshops, and a trick or treat event. The trick or treat event is like a stamp rally, as per the map pictured above. Official event page.


Botanen / Peony Festival Information

Botanen map

There is a water drinking fountain and a vending machine near the main car park. There is also public toilets in the same area. At the “top” of the park there are more toilets near both the playground and the barbecue area.

Botanen, Higashimatsuyama
Address:1148-1 Oya, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0008
Phone:+81493817607
Hours:24 hours, but parking closes in the evening.
Cost:Generally free, but during the period of the spring peony festival (mid April to early May) there is a 500 yen admission free for adults. The charge for children to enter during the festival period is a 100 yen. There is no fee for the winter peony in January. (It used to be 300 yen entrance fee, plus a parking charge. However, parking is now free all year round).
Online:Official blog

Access

Botanen is in Higashimatsuyama, but is very close to Shinrin Park in Namegawa. There is free parking in three different locations. Also, the “dai san” number 3 car park is only open during the peony festival.

The nearest station is Shinrin Koen Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.  It is a ten minute drive from Botanen. During Peony season there is a special bus that runs every 15 minutes from Higashimatsuyama Station on Saturdays.  It costs 100 yen.

Official website

First published in the event section in 2017. Moved to the blog end in 2019 as playground post. Completely updated and republished on January 14th 2021. (9-0 95) Last update April 1st 2024.

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