The John Deere Park is a work in progress, but it has huge potential. It is a “Satoyama” flower park in rural Hatoyama. A place unscathed by telephone or electrical wires, which is rare even in the Hiki District which is largely countryside. Initially, the ‘real’ name of the park was “Utsukushi noson to miryoku aru Satoyama”, 美しい農村と魅力ある里山, which loosely means beautiful and attractive farm village. But they have since named it Aikyo no Sato 愛郷の里, which is a much more manageable name! I call it the John Deere park, because before it was given the name Aikyo no Sato, Utsukushi Noson to Miryoku Aru Satoyama was far too long and there is a John Deere tractor in the car park of the park!
The John Deere Park
I am not sure when they started developing the John Deere park in the Akanuma area of Hatoyama. It feels like it has been kept very hush hush. I can’t even find an official web page, never mind a website, for this charming “satoyama” flower park. It maybe that they are waiting until the park is completed to give it a website or page of its own. Update September 2023: that indeed was the case; they have just launched a website recently. Like the park, the website is also a work in progress!
However, part of the park has been around for a long time. 愛郷の里, which they have confirmed as being read as Aikyo no Sato, is somewhat known within the Hiki District for its lotus flowers. It is also the name of a small goat pen at the park. Aikyo means “love for one’s hometown” and sato denotes a village. Thus, the original satoyama. Sometime between my early visits and September 2022 they actually gave the whole park the name of Aikyo no Sato.
Satoyama in Japanese is a whole concept that is hard to define in a couple of words. You often see it translated as a ‘farm village’. But at its core it means people living in harmony with nature, often a town or village on the cusp of mountains or a forest. But it can just denote a rural area within a large or populous city. Such as the Kawagoe Satoyama.
In Hatoyama it is a bit of both, a flower park at the bottom and side of a forested hill (rather than a mountain) near a housing area. However, the housing area is tucked away behind the hill. Thus you can enjoy an unadulterated view of nature from most of the park. There are swings at the top of part of the hill that is not forested, affording a nice view. They are developing a blueberry farm beside it. So in the future this will make a nice place for blueberry picking in (geographically) central Saitama. In addition, they also have a mushroom forest where you can pick up to 10 mushrooms for free.
Apart from lotus, the park plans to have several different flowers, including iris and lily to bloom in summer. The iris, like the lotus, actually preexist the John Deere park. I originally went to see the iris and the lotus. On that first visit I was too late for the former and too early for the latter. Furthermore, the lilies which are a new addition to the park, haven’t really grown yet. As I said, a work in progress with “huge potential!”
Currently the lotus are blooming. I visited mid June and they weren’t flowering, but I visited again on June 27th and they had started to bloom. Typically though, they bloom from early July to early September. The best time to see lotus generally is early morning as they close up as the day goes on. There are at least three different types of lotus that are pink or white in color. The pink were further along on Monday. Beside the lotus there is a double heart statue which makes a nice photo spot.
The iris are behind / past the lotus. They have both an ayame and shobu iris patch. They ayame iris in Hatoyama bloom from around mid May to June. Normally the shobu iris bloom from June to mid July, but they were finished early this year. Probably due to the excessive heat. The great thing about the park is that they have large photo banners of what the flowers look like in full bloom. Thus, if you miss them – as I did with both the ayama and shobu iris – you can still get an idea of what the flowers look like in bloom.
As aforementioned, there are lilies in the park, but they haven’t really taken off yet. They plan to grow them to bloom from May to July. They are the Japanese lily, Sasayuri, variety.
※This is a park I plan to revisit in each of the seasons so I will be updating this section as I discover more!
Update ①: You can see Pampas Grass in September. Also new in September 2022: there is now a box in the car park for collecting donations for the park, its beside the new Aigo no Sato sign for the park, beside the tractor. Furthermore, there are red spider lilies in the park, but despite visiting on three different occasions in September, I didn’t get to see them like they are shown in the photo below.
Update ②: January 8th 2023 you can still see the pampas grass! The wintersweet have started to bloom. There are about 20 trees in one part of the park, near the car park. There was one plum blossom with a couple of blooms. There were plenty of people walking in the park today, more than any of my previous visits combined! I think it has started to make a name for itself! Some photos from today, January 8th 2023:
Update ③: September 2023 – the park is nearly ready to be ‘launched’. And recently they started a website for it. They are still working on it, but it has the essential information.
John Deere Park Information
Real name: Aikyo no Sato 愛郷の里
Address: 465 Akanuma, Hatoyama, Hiki District, Saitama 350-0321
Hours: 24 hours
Cost: free, even mushroom picking is free. However, there maybe charges for blueberry picking. There is currently no information available.
Plus code: X8HV+2M Hatoyama, Saitama. On Google Maps.
The nearest highway is the Kanetsu. And the nearest interchange is the Sakado Nishi Interchange, its about a ten minute drive from the park. However, you can’t use that interchange unless you have an ETC card. Without an ETC card you would need to use either the Higashimatsuyama or Tsurugashima Interchange. Both are about a 20 minute drive from John Deere park.
There is no train station in Hatoyama town. The nearest train station is probably Ogose Station on the Hachiko line, which is about 15 minutes away in a taxi. Buses are also infrequent in Hatoyama. But for what its worth, Akanuma bus stop is about a ten minute walk from Utsukushi noson to miryoku aru Satoyama, aka John Deere park.