There is such an obsession in Japan in spring to see the cherry blossoms, then the wisteria, the moss phlox, the azalea, the nemophila etc. Its all about one flower or bloom. But come May, its open garden season. And people turn their attention from the large displays of one flower, to beautifully manicured displays of several flowers. But what if I told you there is a collection of gardens that is open all year round and looks different in every season? Moreover, that it is free and miraculously off the beaten path?
On a visit to the prefectural agricultural park several years ago, I picked up some flyers. I used to pick up flyers everywhere I went. It is a great way to learn about attractions in a town or city. Moreover, and my main interest in the at the time, is you can hear about events that never make it onto the world wide web. Nowadays, I am more ecologically minded so I take photos of the flyers rather than pick up a physical copy.
Fukaya Green Kingdom
One of the flyers on that day was for Fukaya Green Kingdom. When I got home I had a quick look at the location online and saved it to my “want to go” list on Google Maps. Although, I knew it was there, I had no idea just how amazing it is. Otherwise I would have gone sooner. I am kicking myself now that we didn’t tag it on to our February and March trips to Kawamoto Sun Green park, as they have a plum blossom festival. And even more so that we didn’t visit it when at Sengenyama park in Autumn, which is particularly near, when they light up the autumn leaves.
I finally visited on April 27th 2021. If you follow my Instagram, you may have seen my recent post about falling in love with my “plan C”. This was my “plan C” on the 27th when I was too late to visit my “plan A” location and “plan B” was a disappointment. Plan B was the moss phlox at Honjo’s Marigold Hill. However, the moss phlox there were really early this year and had already finished blooming by April 27th. I wasn’t expecting much when I headed to Green Kingdom as the back up to the back up. So I was particularly delighted by how beautiful it is and I fell hard and fast in love with this gem of an off the tourist trail location.
- Flower gardens (please see next paragraph)
- Small tree house for kids
- Wooded areas including “insect wood”
- “Fukaya Mura” where there is currently koinobori (carp streamers) flying
- Vegetable patch
- Japan Bird House – a bird house shop
- Water features including a firefly area
- Photo props
- Facilities – rest areas (tables and chairs), toilets with baby changing area, vending machines, smoking area
The center has several gardens. Each is slightly different. They include, but are not limited to:
- A Plum Blossom grove
- Dogwood avenue (in bloom now)
- Rock garden
- Small rose garden
- Small medicinal herb garden
- Children’s garden with a small tree house for kids to play in
- 3 seasonal gardens
- Hydrangea garden
They are all quite small, so don’t expect rolling fields of flowers or large avenues of trees. But they are done very nicely. I spent so much time in the three seasonal gardens that I ran out of time and actually didn’t see two small sections of the park. I also didn’t even realize one of them – the primrose garden – was even there until I was checking facts for this article! There are so many flowers in bloom at the one time, that I couldn’t possibly list everything I saw on Tuesday. But of those that are in bloom right now I was particularly awed by the ladybird poppies, the pink dogwood and the pansies. The koinobori and the “rabbit hill” were an added bonus!
Added July 2021: I visited again on July 13th 2021 to see their selection of lilies. Fukaya City is famous for lilies and is the largest producer of lilies in all of Japan. The selection in Fukaya Green Kingdom is simply stunning. Again, not a huge display, but they have several smaller displays. I was particularly impressed with the African lilies. There was also still some hydrangea in bloom in different areas of the grounds. However, the hydrangea in the hydrangea garden are past peak.
Just as I was about to leave one of the friendly and kind gardeners told me that they were bringing out a selection of potted flowers to give away for free. He told me to pick one. They were very heavy so he offered to carry one to my car for me. I couldn’t impose on him like that so I told him I’d just take one of the smaller potted flowers. He told me to take two! So I did. I wish I’d driven my car around now to take one of the larger pots. If you are purchasing something from the greenhouses or bird house shop there is actually a separate closer car parking area you can use near the greenhouses. I don’t know if they frequently give away flowers. But I will be going back to this flower heaven many times in the future and will update this post as I collate more information!
They don’t seem to sell that many flowers in the green kingdom itself. However, the Saitama Prefecture Flower Planting Distribution Center that you have to walk through (see more in access below) to get to the gardens has a huge selection of flowers. I believe they operate flower auctions too. There is a wisteria display in the Flower Planting Distribution Center and hundreds of flowers to admire and / or purchase! They also sell some garden ornaments, even spotted a Godzilla for sale!
Some highlights of the yearly flowers / events at Fukaya Green Kingdom:
- Plum blossom festival in early Spring
- Flower week in April
- Koinobori in April and early May
- Hands on planting experiences (summer)
- Firefly viewing in June
- Harvesting experiences – for example rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, daikon (autumn)
- Autumn leaf light up in Autumn:
Autumn leaf light up and lights exhibition 2021
The 13th annual autumn leaf light up event will be at Fukaya Green Kingdom on the nights of Friday November 19th and Saturday November 20th. More than just light up the 80 maple trees in the park, there is a whole light event on. For example, in the past they have created a fantasy town of mini houses that are lit up at night. Furthermore, they have interactive lighting on the ground. Moreover the rose garden and bamboo arrangements are also illuminated. It is a popular event that attracts about 1800 visitors each year.
Fukaya Green Kingdom Information
|Address:||24-2 Kushibiki, Fukaya, Saitama 366-0815|
|Hours:||9 am to 6 pm from April to September and until 5 pm from October to March. |
Open 7 days a week, but closes for New Year between December 29th and January 3rd.
|Cost:||Incredibly, this location is free.|
Fukaya Green Kingdom is located beside the Saitama Prefecture Flower Planting Distribution Center. The nearest highway interchange is Hanazono on the Kanetsu expressway. It is on Google Maps, but when maps are directing you it tells you “you have arrived” right in the middle of the Hanazono Honjo Line road. Turn there onto a large avenue, a one way system, with palm trees and large bushes. It looks like you’ve arrived nowhere! Keep going! Cross over the narrow road and you will see the Saitama Prefecture Flower Planting Distribution Center. Follow the one way system around that building to the car park. Fukaya Green Kingdom is tucked away behind the sales area. Behind the toilets! You could easily miss the entrance if you weren’t looking for it.
By public transport the nearest station is Fukaya Station on the JR Takasaki line. However, it is a 15 minute drive away. There is a very infrequent bus that goes from the station to the center – about one every three hours! Same on the way back – a bus goes to the station but just twice in the morning and three times in the afternoon / evening. You can check the most up-to-date bus timetable here. There is also a city loop bus “Kururin” that goes from Okabe station, also on the JR Takasaki line. You can actually book it to bring you to the Green Kingdom, but you must do that in advance.