Strawberry Candle flowers and Lotus Grass in Kawagoe
Strawberry candle flowers aka Crimson Clover is now in bloom in Japan. In this post: some general information about May flowers and Strawberry Candle Flowers. And for those living in Kawagoe; an off the beaten path location to see them. It is on the popular Kawagoe Iruma River cycle course, so it maybe of interest to cyclists too. However, although it is en route for anyone using the Ken-o expressway Kawajima Interchange to get to / from Kawagoe, unfortunately there is no parking or facilities.
We have a saying in Ireland “spring showers bring May flowers”. Due to a jet stream in Ireland and the UK in April, there are frequent rain showers. With the result May has an abundance of flowers. However, Japan has a very different climate. May actually has less flowers than in April. And most of the flowers that bloom in early May in Japan are really April flowers carried over! Don’t get me wrong, there are of course lots of flowers, but while I could name dozens of April flowers, I struggle to list more than a handful of flowers that bloom in May.
Usually in early May you can see wisteria, azalea, tulips and moss phlox. However, all of those were early to bloom in 2021 and thus past peak on May Day. On the flip side, it is possible this year we will be able to see Irises, Lavender and Hydrangea in late May. They normally begin to bloom in June, but if they follow the pattern of other spring flowers they may well be up to two weeks early this year.
Roses and poppies are the most abundant flower in May in Japan. Butterfly flowers also bloom in May, but they aren’t that common. You can also see renge which is called lotus grass in English. It reminds me greatly of Alfalfa. Another flower that grows in early May, but it is also quite uncommon is the Strawberry Candle flower.
Strawberry Candle Flowers
Strawberry Candle flowers scientific name is Trifolium incarnatum. It is a species of clover, thus in the herb family. It is most commonly called Crimson Clover or Italian Clover. However, in Japanese it is called Strawberry Candle. According to Wikipedia, it is native to most of Europe but has been introduced to other countries including Japan.
A search in English for ‘Trifolium incarnatum or Crimson / Italian clover in Japan’ online brings up some stock photos. However, in terms of locations, it turns up little. But if you search Strawberry Candle flower in English it brings up references to Kanagawa and Chiba, no specific locations. However, if you search in Japanese you bring up dozens of locations. Within Saitama top of the list is the Fukuda Area of Kawagoe. The community fields in the Fukuda area of Kawagoe, currently have both renge and strawberry candles in bloom:
Kawagoe Satoyama Initiative
The Satoyama Initiative is Japan’s response to the global biodiversity crises. It was started by the Ministry of Environment of Japan and the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability. There is detailed information in English about the concept and exercises of the project on the official Satoyama Initiative website. The ministry also has an online brochure (pdf) in English. In Kawagoe city they are running a number of projects as part of the Satoyama Initiative. One of those projects is creating rice fields that are “kind to creatures”.
Kawagoe Strawberry Candle Flowers
In the Fukuda area of Kawagoe there are several rice fields were flowers are planted by community in April. Renge lotus grass is currently in bloom. But as it was early to bloom it has already been in full bloom for at least a week. Strawberry Candle Flowers, aka Crimson Clover, were also planted. One of the uses of the herb in agriculture is to fix nitrogen levels of fields. Thus works well for the Satoyama initiative.
The Strawberry Candle flowers are in full bloom now, May 2nd 2021. There is one large field of Strawberry Candles beside two renge fields in one area. Then in a separate area, a two minute walk away, there are renge and strawberry candles growing together. As I said in the opening paragraph, this really is a location for locals or cyclists. It is not a huge display. Moreover, there are no facilities or even parking. However, you can get to the fields by public transport:
You can get a bus from the East exit rotary of Kawagoe. You can get a bus from bus stop number 2 or 3. The number 2 bus stop bus is bound for Higashimatsuyama, #3 for Konosu Drivers License Center. Alight at the bus stop just before “Ochiai bashi”. Its about a four minute walk from the bus stop.