With summer holidays around the corner, it has me thinking about places to bring the kids. In a “normal” year we visit Ireland for the whole of summer. However, due to the pandemic, we have been confined to Japan the last two years. As we are avoiding indoors at all costs (except for our own house!), we are limited to hanging out in the great outdoors. Which is normally not a problem as we love the great outdoors. However, in summer – there is a problem: the heat or more aptly the humidity. The humidity in Japan is an entirely different beast to heat. Heat I can somewhat manage, its the humidity in Japan that renders me useless in summer. I honest to God would spend the entire time sitting under an air conditioning unit if it weren’t for the kids. For them, I try my very best to get outdoors even just for an hour or two.
One park I am thinking of bringing them this summer is Honjo Park. Its one of those parks that has something for us all at this time of year. 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 is 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 featured image is from the the official Honjo Sightseeing Association web page.
Other flowers and blossoms
In Autumn you can see an avenue of golden gingko trees. Furthermore, the park is known for its cherry blossoms and, to a lesser degree, its plum blossoms. There are at least three different variety of cherry blossoms in Honjo Park including an early blooming variety, Somei Yoshino and Yaezakura, late blooming, cherry blossoms. There were yaezakura blooming as late as April 27th in 2021, when most yaezakura in other parks had finished up. 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. There are also some lady banks’ roses and horse chestnut in the park
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.
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.
On the far side of the recreational area of the park to the playground there is a barbecue area. (There is a sports area of the park too). The recreational part of the park isn’t actually very big at all, so its only about a five minute walk from the playground. The barbecue pits, tables and chairs are in a wooded area which gives ample shade from the summer sun.
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.