Honjo is quite far from us so its a city I didn’t visit much when the kids were very small. However, since all four of my kids started elementary school last year, I’ve been several times. And I will keep going back, as there is quite a lot to discover in the area. Honjo Park is one place we had been to, but I hadn’t seen it throughout the seasons. I originally posted this entry as summer was approaching, but now (March 4th 2022) after finally seeing the plum blossoms in the park I have added more photos. Moreover, some new information too.
Honjo Park is a medium sized park with a large gymnasium and sports ground in it. Furthermore, it has a large playground, water play, barbecue area and lots of seasonal flowers. What I learned on my most recent visit, March 4th 2022, is that it is particularly radiant when the plum blossoms are in bloom. Moreover, kawazu (early blooming) cherry blossoms bloom at the same time. However, they are quite late to bloom this year. As are the plum blossoms for that matter, but in Honjo park there are currently dozens of plum blossoms in full bloom.
Honjo Park in spring
Plum blossoms in Honjo
The park is known for its cherry blossoms and to a lesser degree its plum blossoms. I think the latter is an injustice. It is a beautiful plum blossom area with approximately 180 trees of shades of pink and white. Moreover, there are several different shades of pink as you can hopefully see in the gallery above. Having seen it on March 4th, I am quite surprised it is not promoted more for its beautiful blooms. Moreover, because you can actually see Kawazuzakura at the same time as the plum blossoms.
Kawazuzakura in Honjo
The beautiful pink blossoms of Honjo Park line the pavement from the sports gymnasium car park to the barbecue area. Passing by a dog run along the way. By the gymnasium car park, they frame the Higashi Honjo Inari Shrine beautifully. The kawazu early blooming cherry blossoms in Honjo Park typically bloom mid to late February, but are late this year. I visited the park on March 4th 2022 and the kawazuzakura were not even 50% in bloom. However, when I visited again on March 15th they were already turning green.
Yaezakura, Honjo Park
Apart from the Kawazuzakura there are at least two other variety of cherry blossoms in Honjo Park. They include Somei Yoshino, the most famous type of cherry blossom in Japan, which are actually white not pink! There is also yaezakura, a late blooming double cherry blossom, which is pink like the kawazuzakura. There were yaezakura blooming as late as April 27th in 2021, which in a normal year is actually average. But in 2021 the yaezakura, like the Somei Yoshino, were early and were long gone by April 27th in most places. They don’t have a large selection of yaezakura, the Somei Yoshino are the main cherry blossom “attraction” in the park. There is an avenue of the somei yoshino by the playground.
Other flowers and blossoms
There are also some lady banks’ roses and horse chestnut in the park in April.
Honjo Park in summer
Honjo Park is one of those parks that has something for us all in summer. For the kids: a great playground, water play (in a normal year) and a barbecue area in the shade. However, I don’t expect the water play area to be open this year due to the pandemic. The vast majority of wading rivers and splash pads for kids are closed again this year due to the Coronavirus. For me, the main reason I want to visit Honjo Park in summer is to see the “taishi” lotus.
Taishi means ambassador, but I’m not sure we have an “ambassador lotus” in English. It might be a variety indigenous to Japan. I honestly don’t know. The “taishi hasu” (hasu means lotus) bloom from July to August in the pond in the middle of the park. The flower opens up in the morning, but close up in the afternoon. So if you do want to see them, visiting before lunch is advised. The above image is from the the official Honjo Sightseeing Association web page.
In a ‘regular’ year kids can also play in a wading river, but it is unlikely that will be an option this summer. To be honest, without the wading rivers, the parks can get unbearably hot. So an early morning visit while its still marginally cooler – and the lotus will be out! – will be the way for us to go this year.
Near the sports area of the park, where the large gymnasium is, there is a barbecue area. The barbecue pits, tables and chairs are in a wooded area which gives ample shade from the summer sun.
Autumn at Honjo Park
In Autumn you can see an avenue of golden gingko trees. Unfortunately, I have not yet been in autumn. Hopefully I can add more information to this paragraph in the future.
All year round!
The playground at Honjo Park is a particularly nice one. And they have a large air trampoline which is always a hit with the kids. It is inflated at 9 am on fine mornings and stays up until 4.30 pm. They don’t fill it with air on wet days and / or very hot days. The playground also has several different slides including a roller slide and tunnel slides. There is also climbing equipment, a see-saw, swings and some spring rides.
There are toilets, vending machines, benches and water drinking fountains in the park. There is also a shrine beside the playground.
|Address:||Nishiikakko, Honjo, Saitama 367-0025|
|Hours:||24 hours, but parking closes overnight .|
|Cost:||The park itself is free, but the sporting equipment in the park is charged.|
|Online:||Official web page on Honjo City website|
The park is 1.7 kilometers from Honjo Waseda station on the Joetsu Bullet train line. In addition, it is 2.7 kilometers from Honjo Station on the JR Takasaki line.
By car: the nearest interchange is Honjo Kodama Interchange on the Kanetsu expressway. The park is about 4.7 kilometers from that exit.