Rice Field Art, Ancient Lotus, Water lilies, Wintersweet, Plum Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms, Observation Tower, Nature Hall, Winter Illumination and Park (with small playground) at Kodai Hasu no Sato in Gyoda City. Also a popular spot to witness the first sunrise of the year.
Kodai Hasu no Sato
Kodai Hasu no Sato is a medium sized park in Gyoda City. It is famous for both its ancient lotus and its rice field art. However, in recent years its also becoming increasingly known for its wintersweet in January and its Plum Blossoms in February. Moreover, there are some beautiful cherry blossoms in the park.
Kodai Hasu no Sato through the seasons
There is something to see in every season in Kodai Hasu no Sato. In spring, summer and winter there are seasonal flowers and in late summer / early autumn you can see the rice field art. First up summer, when you can see the lotus, which are the namesake of the park…
Kodai Hasu No Sato 古代蓮の里 can be translated as ‘the village of ancient lotus’. Kodai 古代 means ancient and Hasu 蓮 means lotus. Sato is a word used for village and the ‘no’ in front of it indicates possession…
Ancient Lotus at Kodai Hasu no Sato
“Kodai Hasu no Sato (Ancient Lotus Pond)” treats visitors to the mysterious beauty of Gyoda lotus flowers that awoke from an ancient sleep in Gyoda. From June through August, some 120,000 lotus flowers of 42 types can be seen on the grounds. Climb the observation tower from summer through autumn to see “huge rice paddy art” spread across a paddy canvas from 50 meters above ground.From the official website, linked at the bottom of the post
The ancient lotus were discovered at a garbage incineration plant in 1971*. Until that time, the variation of lotus that they found were believed to be extinct for 1400 years. It was an incredible and rare discovery. The lotus typically bloom in June and July with some lingering in August for the rare opportunity to view rice field art and lotus simultaneously.
Before the lotus bloom you can see water lilies in the park, from around mid May to early June. However, in 2023, the water lilies probably belong under the ‘spring’ heading as they started to bloom on April 25th! In early June you can usually see fireflies in the “firefly river”. There will be an official firefly viewing event on the nights of Saturday June 10th and Sunday June 11th.
The highlight of late summer and early Autumn is the rice field ‘tanbo’ art. In 2021, the rice field art was most visible in summer, but normally best viewing is late August and early September.
Rice Field Art at Kodai Hasu No Sato
The rice field art is a more recent addition to the area. The first display was just 13 years ago. It was very basic (top left corner). The designs have become more elaborate and bigger over the years, shown in the collage from left to right, top to bottom. And in 2015 (bottom right photo on left with boy in an astro suit) the field was awarded the Guinness World Record for the largest work of rice field art. The art work, which uses 9 different types of rice for contrast, is over an approximate 27,000 square meters.
Kodai Hasu no Sato is the nearest place to Tokyo you can view art made from rice plants. It is not painted, but planted in such a way to depict an image in the rice fields.
Information about the annual Rice Field Art Display
The rice field art can be viewed from the fifty meter high observation tower. More on that below seasonal information.
Autumn Soul Food Festival
Due to the success of the spring soul food festival, the park will host an autumn soul food festival in 2023. It is on Saturday October 28th and Sunday October 29th from 10 am to 3 pm. On the Sunday, there is free coffee! One cup per person. Official event page.
In January and early February you can see Wintersweet in Kodai Hasu no Sato. They are followed by plum blossoms, which start to bloom around the very end of January.
There is a small wintersweet grove in Kodai Hasu no Sato, on the North end of the park. It is relatively new, but the wintersweet in the park have already made a name for themselves. They usually bloom from around early January to early February. However, they have already started to bloom on December 19th 2023, much earlier than normal! The first photo in the above gallery of the wintersweet is with the lotus tower in the background. The Lotus Tower is a symbol of the park. Photos in this post were taken on January 26th 2022.
Each year for two days during the bloom of the wintersweet, Kodai Hasu no Sato have a wintersweet event. They always wait to see the condition of the wintersweet to decide the date. In 2024 it is on Saturday January 27th and Sunday January 28th. During the period the first 50 people to visit the observation tower will be gifted a twig of robai. This year for the first time ever, the illumination event will still be on at the time of the wintersweet festival. Official wintersweet event page.
The plum blossoms are also relatively new and already well known locally. In the short few years since they were first planted, they have already grown to a recent height. When I published this post in 2018 I wrote “I have great faith that in the future, the 200 plum blossoms at Kodai Hasu no Sato will become quite famous locally!” In 2022, that is already the case. A few plum blossoms were already peaking through on my last visit, January 26th 2022. But typically the best time to see them is February.
Plum Blossom Festival 2024
They no longer call it a “festival”, just a “campaign”. But the event is the same as what the festival was! Basically, it the plum blossom “campaign” marks the prime viewing period and they give a present of plum blossom seeds to the first 50 people to visit the observation tower on the days of the event. They also have a quiz rally for elementary school aged children. In 2024 the plum blossom “campaign days” are February 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th. Official event page.
The cherry blossoms in the park are already well known. They were planted long before the wintersweet or plum blossoms, in November 1996. Typically, they bloom from the end of March to early April. For two days during the cherry blossom bloom period the park has a sakura matsuri (cherry blossom festival):
Sakura Matsuri and Soul Food Festival
“Lotus” Observation Tower at Kodai Hasu No Sato
The observation tower is beside the main car park for the facilities at the site. It costs 400 yen to enter and 200 yen for children six years old and over. On Saitama Citizen’s day, November 14th annually, children can enter for free. The tower is fifty meters high and gives a 360 view of Gyoda and surrounding areas. It gives the best (and only aerial) view of the rice paddy art.
The building is just a tower with nothing between the ground floor and the observation deck, except the elevator shaft! There is a full window on one side of the elevator so you a nice view, but not of the rice paddy art which is on a side within the elevator shaft. There is a rest area, toilets and an educational area on the first floor. The educational area includes a small reading area, various displays, a small movie room and a tiny but interesting and fun nature museum. The tower and its grounds are illuminated in winter. Moreover, the tower opens especially on New Year’s morning at 6 am for Hatsuhinode.
Hatsuhinode is one of my favorite New Year traditions – watching the first sunrise of the year. Anyone can apply, in advance, for this exclusive chance to witness the first sunrise of the year from the tower. However, only 70 lucky people are chosen (by a lottery system). The tower opens at 6 am to 9 am especially for the occasion. They are already taking bookings for New Year’s Day 2024. The application deadline is December 20th 2023. Official event information here.
Nature museum at Kodai Hasu no Sato
Calling it a museum is generous, but it is worth mentioning this small area for those visiting with kids. It will only take you 20 minutes to go through the nature displays here, but they are fun for young children as they are interactive.
Other facilities at the Park
Beside the tower there is a udon restaurant, food kiosk and shop with a communal rest area. There are drink vending machines in at least two different locations. Even when there is nothing in bloom the park is a nice place to walk. There are lots of bridges and promenades over the various lotus ponds. There is also a small lake which attracts dozens of ducks in winter. On a visit in January 2022 there were at least 200 ducks in the pond!
Kodai Hasu no Sato with kids
There is a small playground on the west side of the park. It has a roller slide, a combination play unit, spring rides and a train shaped combination unit for smaller children. There is a shallow wading stream that kids can paddle feet in during the summer. That is near the observation tower.
The park is open 24 hours. The facilities such as the tower have different opening hours depending on the season. During the rice field art period, the tower is open daily from 9 am to 4.30 pm. During September and other months it closes on Mondays. In December when they have winter illumination the tower opens until 9 pm.
400 yen to enter the tower for adults, 200 yen for children aged over 6 years old.
Parking is free most of the year, but they do sometimes charge during the height of lotus season (June / July).
You can see up-to-date hours and costs (Japanese only) on the official site:
You can get a bus to the park from Gyoda Station on the JR Takasaki line. If you are coming by car there are two parking lots. One on the North end of the park and one, the main one, on the south by the observation tower. The park is about 30 minutes drive from the Hanyu Interchange of the Tohoku Expressway. And about the same (30 minutes) from the Okegawa Kitamoto Interchange of the Ken-o expressway.