Higashimatsuyama Agriculture Park, fruit and vegetable picking, food farming, farm product processing experiences and seasonal flowers. The cosmos are now in bloom in November 2023 and there will be an event in the park on Sunday November 19th 2023. More on that below.
Higashimatsuyama Agriculture Park
The Higashimatsuyama Agriculture Park, or Higashimatsuyama Norin Park, re-opened on August 1st 2019 after a year of work and renovations. There was a lot of discourse about the changes, mainly negative, as the upgrade involved destroying a field of poppy flowers and some mature cherry blossom trees.
I never did get to see the park before they updated it, but looking at the photos online it seemed to be an off the tourist trail spot to enjoy seasonal flowers. What it is now, is quite different, but thankfully the avenue of cherry blossom trees survived the redesign. Moreover, they now have sunflowers in summer, August specifically.
Fruit and Vegetable Picking
One of the main draws of the agriculture park is seasonal fruit and vegetable picking. Below is a table showing fruits and vegetables which are currently set up for picking over the next 12 months. There is also an orchard on terraced fields which is still too young for picking. They also haven’t disclosed yet what type of orchard it is.
Schedule of fruit and vegetable picking
|Mid December to May||Strawberry Picking|
|October||Sweet Potato Picking|
Higashimatsuyama Agriculture Strawberry Picking
Strawberry picking is one of the main offerings of the park. It starts in either December or January, depending on the weather. As it is a municipal facility it is much cheaper than a private strawberry picking farm. The price has gone up more than 10% in 2023 though, but it is still much cheaper than most other strawberry picking farms.
Strawberry picking 2024
The 2024 strawberry picking season at Higashimatsuyama Norin Park starts Friday December 15th 2023 and will run until May 31st 2024, all things equal. As of November 25th 2023, the booking site is already open. Please note the farm closes for New Years from December 29th to January 3rd. It is also closed every Monday. Priority is given to people with an advance booking. You can make a reservation through the website linked above or by ringing the agriculture center. The phone booking isn’t open yet though, just the online booking.
Strawberry Picking Cost
From December 15th until the end of January, picking costs 750 yen for 30 minutes of picking. From February 1st until April 14th the price goes down. In 2023 it was 600 yen, but the price for 2024 is not yet confirmed. In addition, from April 15th until the end of the season (roughly the first week in May, will depend on the conditions) it costs 480 yen (in 2023) per person.
Higashimatsuyama Agriculture Park Botany and Flowers
Cherry blossoms bloom late March to early April in an average year. Rapeseed and gillyflowers bloom around the same time as you can see above. The park looks particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season. See the photo in the playground section for a wide view. The park also looks very picturesque again in sunflower season:
The sunflowers originally bloomed from around the end of July or early August to around the end of August. However, in both 2022 and 2023 they started to bloom later, around the end of the first week of August. That is, around August 8th or thereabouts. They plant approximately 7000 sunflowers each year. They generally bloom for about 3 to 4 weeks, but of course it will depend on the weather and mother nature. However, in 2023, they will have a sunflower market on Sunday August 20th, when they will also allow people pick the sunflowers for a nominal fee.
On my 2022 visit to see the sunflowers (in August), an old woman remarked to me “now that I have seen the sunflowers, I am looking forward to seeing the cosmos in Autumn”. I did not know the grew cosmos, she said she didn’t either, but one of the staff in the cafe had told her about them. I assumed they were going to be a new attraction in 2022. But fast forward to October and I finally got around to researching the cosmos at the park and it turns out they had them last year. Moreover, they grow in November not October, which I am personally delighted with because there are already so many October cosmos spots its hard to get around to see them all!
On October 28th (2022), while visiting the nearby chrysanthemum, I popped by to see if there were any sign of the cosmos at the agricultural park. Much to my delight, there were a few flowering. However, it’ll be another few days, maybe even a week before they will start to look Instagenic! They seem to bloom for most of the month of November. Just like the sunflowers, they are located beside the playground, in front of (below!) the cafe on the hill.
Update November 15th 2023: the cosmos are now in bloom. There will be an ‘horse’ market on Sunday November 19th between 11 and 3 pm when they will allow pick some of the cosmos. There will be horses at the park on the day that you can get your photo taken with. Official event page.
The playground is quite small and only has four pieces of equipment: a flying fox (zip line), spider web climbing frame and two spring rides. They are located half way up the hill with a view of Higashimatsuyama below. You can see the playground from the cafe:
Heuvel Cafe on the Hill
The cafe stood on the hill for almost two years before the cafe opened. However, during that time you were allowed use it as a rest area on weekends only. They finally opened it as a cafe in August 2020. The image with the text on it above from the official website, shows the cafe with sunflowers in bloom. However, in 2020 they actually didn’t start to bloom until two weeks after the cafe was opened!
Cafe Heuvel is a beautiful bungalow with natural wood and great views. You can see out over Higashimatsuyama and Kumagaya. There are also views of the mature cherry blossoms of the park in spring and of the sunflowers in summer. This cafe is ideal in this time with Covid as you can sit outdoors. There are tables on the patio with a sunshade. In addition, there are benches in other areas of the park which have shade.
Throughout the day, from 9 am, you can get drinks and a strawberry dessert like kakigori as well as delicious French Toast. Between 11 am and 2 pm they have a small light lunch menu, drinks and desserts on offer. And from 2 pm to 5 pm they have an afternoon menu. The last order for the afternoon menu is 4 pm for eating in and 4.30 pm for take out.
Hours of Heuvel Cafe
The cafe opens from 9 am to 5 pm, with last order at 4 pm, from Tuesdays to Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.
Check out another gorgeous cafe (and garden) “Prunus” in Higashimatsuyama here. And the instacafe “Kitchen Cafe Cranbon” here.
- Research center
- Agricultural product processing experience facility
- Several multipurpose toilets
- Vending machines
- Drinking water fountain
Agriculture Park Information
|Address:||〒355-0008 Saitama, Higashimatsuyama, Ōya, 4212−１|
|Hours:||the park is “open” 24 hours, but the facilities and car park operate from 9 am to 5 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays. If a public holiday falls on a Monday they open and close on the Tuesday instead.|
|Cost:||free to use the park and playground, picking and use of research facilities have varying costs.|
Higashimatsuyama Agriculture Park Access
The park is located close to main route 407. It is in Higashimatsuyama just before Kumagaya and close to the North exit of Shinrin Park, also known as Musashi Kyuro National Government Park.
The closest expressway is the Kanetsu expressway. The Higashimatsuyama Interchange is about seven kilometres or a 20 minute drive from the park. There are two main car parks which are close to the facilities. The first one you pass is an uphill walk, but they have a ramp built in to the hill that can be used by wheelchairs or strollers. There are also priority car spaces for wheelchair users and pregnant women right beside the facilities.
By public transport you can get bus from Tobu Tojo Line’s Higashimatsuyama station’s south exit bound for Kumagaya and alight at Shinkotani「神光谷」bus stop . The park is a ten minute walk from the bus stop.