Daffodils in Gongendo Park, Saitama January 2021
There are a few places renowned for their daffodils in Saitama, but I think Gongendo park is probably the best known of them all. It is one of the larger displays anyhow, with half a million daffodils grown in the park in a normal year. The daffodils were first planted in 2005 and over the years they increased the size of the display to 500,000 daffodils. There are at least three different varieties, including beautiful yellow daffodils.
The park normally has a festival during the bloom period. The Satte Daffodil Festival (also known as the Narcissus Festival) which is generally held from early January to mid February. However, this year with the Coronavirus Outbreak and a State of Emergency, there is no festival. Moreover, they are not maintaining the daffodils.
The daffodils, or narcissus as they are also called, did grow and they are currently in bloom. However, they look nothing like a “normal” year. Today, there was less than 10% in bloom. I can only speculate that the park decided not to cultivate them like they normally do, to avoid too many people visiting. Indeed, there is a big sign in the car park to remind you that there is currently a State of Emergency in Saitama.
Gongendo is a prefectural park located in Satte city in the North East of Saitama Prefecture. The park has three separate parts. Currently there is a number 1, 3 and 4 park. All of the flowers are in the latter, the number four (#4) park.
The park is best known for its cherry blossoms and rapeseed scenery. Today, January 19th 2021, the rapeseed was already showing some color, but only a little bit of height. Generally rapeseed in Saitama blooms from mid February to early April. The cherry blossoms won’t bloom until the middle of March at the earliest.
There are a few other blooms in the park. For example, today there were some wintersweet blooming. There are only about a dozen trees, enough to give off the divine sweet smell that wintersweet is renowned for.
There is a cafe in the park, right by the main car park. Only the main car park is open all year round. Car park #2 and other overflow car parks are only open during busy periods such as the cherry blossom and hydrangea seasons. There are plenty of toilets in the park. And there is a selection of vending machines in the main car park.
There is a wee little goat “farm” in the park. Its not really a farm, but it is home to four goats. They are out in the court yard between 10 am and 4 pm on a dry day. You can’t feed them or anything, but they seem quite friendly. Its free to drop by and see them.
Parks 1 and 3
Park number 3 is on the opposite side of the Naka river to this, the flower park. But the two parks are connected by a bridge. The playground is in park #1 which is North of both park #3 and the flower park. Officially, its address is Kuki! You also have to cross the river to get to it. And on foot it is a good 30 minute walk. Even by car, its six minutes away. But there is another car park at the #1 park.
Access Gongendo Park
By public transport; You can take a bus from Satte Station on the Tobu Nikko line. It is the Asahi Bus bound for Goka Machi Yakuba. Alight at “Gongendo” bus stop. It costs 170 yen one way. (Please do confirm this route as there maybe changes due to the State of Emergency). The bus stop is on the South end of the park.
By car, the park is about a ten minute drive from the Satte Interchange of the Ken-o expressway. One thing to note is that Google Maps automatically brought me in from the West, along route 371. However, you’re not supposed to turn into the park from here as you are on the “wrong” side of the road. If you actually come onto route 371 from the North, using the Nikko Kaido aka National Route 4, it is safer and legal!