Moss phlox, sunflowers, marigolds, night illumination and other seasonal blooms at Marigold Hill in Honjo City in Northern Saitama
Moss phlox aka Shibazakura
The moss phlox of Hitsujiyama in Chichibu need lead introduction to people living in the Kanto Plain of Japan. I think the image of the pink, purple and white carpet in front of a mountain with a tiered front is probably relatively well known overseas too. Although people might not necessarily know it as being “that shibazakura field in Saitama”. But just as a picturesque moss phlox field in Japan. The trouble with the fame of Shibazakura Hill in Chichibu it draws thousands of visitors – often in just one day! So it is a test of patience and a logistical nightmare to visit during Golden Week.
An Alternative Moss Phlox Viewing Location
The plan for today was to bring you an alternative spot for ‘shibazakura’ moss phlox viewing in Saitama Prefecture this Golden Week. That is, the moss phlox at Marigold Hill, Honjo City. What’s that quote about best-laid plans!? It looked promising although disconcerting as I approached Marigold Hill and could see literally hundreds of people atop the hill. I was quite surprised by the sheer number of people as this is quite an off the beaten spot for moss phlox. However, it turned out they were students on a tour. There must have been at least 300 hundred of them. I honestly don’t know if they were high school students or University students.
However, as I drove up the side of the hill and had still only seen a small spot of moss phlox, my bubble was burst. I still held onto the hope that the students were blocking my view, but much to my horror it turns out the moss phlox of marigold hill are done for this year. Yep, finished, over, gone. Except for two small sections of purple shibazakura. So I am using a photo from the Honjo City website (next paragraph) to show you what it can look like and hereafter generic information for the seasons in the park. According to that website, they were much earlier to bloom this year. According to various social media posts, they are normally in bloom until the end of Golden Week.
Marigold Hill (no Oka)
Marigold no Oka, aka Marigold Hill, is a small park in Honjo City. Like really small. You can walk around the circumference of the park in five minutes. However, the attraction of it is in its seasonal blooms and illumination (winter). The seasonal flower field is about 4000 m². It is named for the marigold that grow there in autumn. Because it is a hill it can be seen for miles around. Thus, seasonal blooms look particularly picturesque. Moreover, it has beautiful trees right in the middle of the park that offset the blooms.
The other main feature of the park is the “Bell of Hope”. I couldn’t even get a decent photo of that because the students were queuing up to take turns of get a commemorative photo with it. But I had already decided by then to cut my loses and move onto the next location. I will definitely go back its just a matter of when. If it wasn’t so far I’d try to see each of the seasonal blooms:
- March – Cherry blossoms
- April (and usually early May but not this year) – Moss Phlox
- June – Hydrangea
- July / August – Sunflowers
- Autumn – Marigold (generally October to November)
- Winter – Night illumination (more information)
There is no playground. However, there are toilets and two vending machines. There are some picnic benches and benches in the park. Unless you were picnicking at the park, you wouldn’t need a lot of time here. There are great views from the top of the hill though. You can see Mt Akagi in Gunma on a clear day.
Marigold Hill Information
|Address:||1-13 Wasedanomori, Honjo, Saitama 367-0030|
|Hours:||24 hours, but the car park is only open from 9 am to 5 pm|
|Online:||Official web page on the Honjo City website|
The park is about 2.5 kilometers from the Honjo-Kodama Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway. There is free parking for 36 cars. The car park is at the top of the hill, not the bottom where Google directs you to! If you need to do some homeware shopping – there is a Cainz next door!
JR Takasaki Line’s Honjo station is about a 30 minute walk away (three kilometers). The Joetsu Shinkansen Honjo Waseda station is right by the park.