Botanen Park in Higashimatsuyama is the largest peony garden in all of Japan. However, more than just a peony garden, it is also a small park with several things to offer:
- Winter flowers
- Spring and the Peony Festival
- Summer flowers
- Autumn colors
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.
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.
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
only a dozen about 40 in 2022 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 Saturday January 8th to Sunday January 23rd 2022.
Botanen is at its best in spring, when the 6,500 peony come into bloom. Generally, they bloom from mid April to the end of Golden Week. According to the Higashimatsuyama City official website, Botanen is the largest peony garden in Japan. 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.
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!
Botanen Peony Festival 2022
The highlight of the year at Botanen is the Peony festival. In 2022, it is on from Tuesday April 12th until public holiday May 5th (the last day of Golden Week), from 9 am to 5 pm. Within that period, the main day of celebrations is on Sunday April 24th. Like many other festivals that went or are going ahead this year, it is a festival “lite” without the usual trimmings. But there will be a couple of food trucks on weekends. There are also several activities planned as per the schedule below (apologies, currently only available in Japanese):
There are three small hydrangea displays in the park in summer. However, please note that the park is very hot in the summer months and there is very limited shade throughout the park.
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.
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).
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!
The barbecue area was added last year. Its still 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 above, 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.
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.
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.
|Address:||1148-1 Oya, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0008|
|Hours:||24 hours, but parking closes in the evening.|
|Cost:||Generally free, but during the period of the 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. (It used to be 300 yen entrance fee, plus a parking charge. However, parking is now free all year round).|
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.
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)