Every November in Japan there are chrysanthemum festivals all around the country where you can see potted chrysanthemum displays. However, there are only a few places where you can actually see chrysanthemum flower beds. In Saitama anyway. One place you can see chrysanthemum growing in a manicured garden is the Ooka Citizen Activity Center – 大岡市民活動センター , in Higashimatsuyama.
Ooka Citizen Activity Center
Ooka Citizen Activity Center or Ooka Shimin Katsudo Center is a community center type municipal facility in the Ooka area of Higashimatsuyama. The center hosts events annually, particularly flower events, and has some rooms that can be used by residents of Higashimatsuyama. There are also pitches and tennis courts for citizen’s use. The grounds are mostly used by senior citizens for gate ball, a popular sport in the retirement age group.
The Ooka Citizen Activity Center is quite photogenic thanks to the atypical buildings with a windmill outside. They also maintain small flower pots and beds on the grounds. Currently they have some Cosmos, Mexican Hydrangea and Glorybower (Clerodendrum) and (Clerodendron bungei) in bloom. Across the road there is a garden with no sign posts which looks like it is part of private land, but it is part of the center. It is where the chrysanthemum and some cosmos is grown.
Higashimatsuyama is famous for its three day walk events. It is the biggest walking event in Japan. Moreover it is the second largest walking event in the whole world. There are several different courses🔗, including a route that takes in this center and the area of Ooka.
Cherry blossoms may well be a symbol of Japan for many, but the official flower of Japan is actually the 16 petal chrysanthemum. Moreover, it is also the official crest and seal of the Imperial family and hence why the monarchy is often referred to as the Chrysanthemum throne. There is even a national Chrysanthemum day annually on the 9th of September. But I often wonder about that date because chrysanthemum are typically grown later in Autumn and Chrysanthemum festivals are held in November.
The chrysanthemum in Ooka community center is grown on the top of a small hill on the far side of the road to the main pedestrian entrance into the community center. You can look back down on the center from the top of the hill, but unfortunately it is quite hard to get a photo of the chrysanthemum with the windmill behind due to the gradient and some trees.
The chrysanthemum normally flower in November, but sometimes they are already picturesque by the end of October. In 2021, I visited them mid October and they were still green. I visited them again on October 25th 2021 and they are coming along nicely. They are earlier than in 2020. However, it’ll be at least another week before they are all in bloom in 2021. On November 9th 2020 they were fabulous…
I visited a few times again this year, 2022. My most recent was November 16th and they were picture perfect. Here is a little Youtube short of them on November 16th 2022:
Ooka Citizen’s Activity Center Information
There are outdoor public toilets, which I imagine are open even when the center is not, but I can’t say for sure. There are also toilets indoors. The parking area has a vending machine.
|Ooka Shimin Katsudo Center|
|Address:||3400-10 Oya, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0008|
|Hours:||8:30 am to 5:15 pm|
|Cost:||Free for viewing, however individual events may have a cover charge|
|Online:||Official webpage on the Higashimatsuyama City website|
The center and garden are very close (by car) to Musashi Kyuryo National Government park aka Shinrin Park🔗 , Higashimatsuyama Agricultural park🔗 and also Botanen park🔗. If you are heading to the central gate of Shinrin Park from national route 407 you pass by the turn off for the center on the way. It is a crossroads with a Lawson. There is parking for about 40 cars.
A Higashimatsuyama city loop bus stops at the center. On Google Maps:
You always find the best places for a day out and the flowers are always a fantastic bonus. I’ll add this to my list, thanks!
The only thing is the center itself is a bit lacking if there is no event on, but there are other off-the-beaten-path places nearby that are worth a visit too 🙂 I’d say early November will be the best viewing time for the chrysanthemum – judging by previous years anyway. Thanks a million Ozburger