Seasonal flowers at the Shimoyatsubayashi flower field where flower picking is allowed and free
Unlike in my home country, you can’t pick flowers in Japan unless you have permission to do so. Not even flowers growing on the side of the road. Like Singapore, Japan also frowns on people picking flowers unless they own them. However, unlike Singapore, there is no official law. It is just an unspoken rule that is common knowledge. However, there are exceptions, such as wild flowers in the mountains and rapeseed along river embankments.
Often at a flower festival there are a couple of fields where they allow flower picking. However, they usually charge for the pleasure. Shimoyatsubayashi in Kawajima Town, Saitama Prefecture doesn’t charge. But you can only pick as the season winds down for some of the flowers. They will put up a sign to say when it is okay to pick. But please be careful – they also put up signs at the beginning of season to say “it will be great if lots of …. bloom”. When the time is right they put up one to say “thanks to your cooperation lots of … bloomed. Please freely pick the flowers”. Free flower picking is actually quite rare in Japan, well in Kanto anyway. Thus these fields have attracted more attention in recent years.
What to bring?
In theory, you actually don’t need to bring anything at all. You can actually pull the full flower up from the root. Or break of the buds. But if you want to do it the Japanese way – one or all of the following;
…gloves, a scissors or plant cutter, something to kneel on and something to put the flowers in.
Shimoyatsubayashi flower field
Shimoyatsubayashi is the name of an area of Kawajima Town in the Hiki District of Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Although home to the town hall and most of town’s public facilities, is a very rural area of Kawajima Town. There are three fields together. They are not particularly large, on the small side in fact. But they are wide enough that you can get a good “insta-worthy” shoot of the flowers in season. Speaking of, thanks to Instagram and social media in general, the fields have more visitors in recent years. And as I said above, the free flower picking is an added bonus, for some even – the impetus to visit.
Flowers at Shimoyatsubayashi
- Spring – rapeseed also known as rape blossom, canola flower / blossom and nanohana in Japanese
- Summer – sunflowers
- Autumn – cosmos
Rapeseed in Spring
In spring rapeseed blooms at the Shimoyatsubayashi flower field. They typically bloom from around the end of February to around mid April. This year, 2021, they were late to bloom though. They started around early March. Also this year, there is deadnettle among the rapeseed too. The purple yellow contrast is just stunning. My heart skipped a beat when I noticed. It looks like a purple carpet against yellow drapes. As of March 26th 2021, they already have the signs up to say “feel free to pick the flowers”.
There are actually dozens of places to see rapeseed in Kawajima Town. There is one display in particular, on the Demaru end of the Arakawa Tarouemon, that is breathtaking. Another is a picturesque spot near the Oppe river. Shimoyatsubashi is actually one of the smallest displays. At the other locations, you often see a couple of people here and there picking the rapeseed. But if you are in anyway in doubt or nervous about picking flowers on the embankments, I recommend you visit Shimoyatsubayashi to pick in comfort. Without the fear of any locals questioning your actions. Rapeseed does seem to be an exception to the “no picking” unspoken rule. However, just last week, I witnessed a man confront a couple for picking the rapeseed along an embankment on the Shingashi River in Kawagoe.
At the end of March into early April you can see cherry blossoms in the area. If you stand with the town hall at your back, in the distance you can make out the cherry blossoms of Yakushi Nyoraizazou (above). An otherwise unassuming temple, that looks so picturesque when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Moreover, they decorate the grounds with festival lanterns. At the nearby solar panel lake you can also see stunning cherry blossoms, with wild nanohana (below).
Don’t miss: across the road from the flower fields in Heisei no Mori park there are other flowers in bloom. In spring, you can see cherry blossoms at the end of March and early April. Furthermore, there are some stunning yaezakura – late blooming cherries – that bloom from mid April. Around that time the roses, which the park is famed for, start to bloom.
Sunflowers in summer
Sunflowers bloom in Japan from as early as the end of June until as late as early September. In Saitama Prefecture, generally you can see sunflowers from mid July. Some places grow them earlier, some later. But guaranteed that by the end of July and until the middle of August you can see sunflowers in Saitama Prefecture. Shimoyatsubayashi is the same. Moreover, in 2020 due to the Coronavirus outbreak several sunflower fields did not to open to the public, but Shimoyatsubayashi was one of the few that did. Latest update July 17th 2021: they grew the flowers again in 2021. However, it is a smaller display than previous years. Moreover, the sunflowers were quite damaged today. I visited them on the 10th too and they were fine. But today (17th) – its like they were trampled… possibly by wild boars??
Don’t miss!: lotus flowers bloom from end of June to mid August in Heisei No Mori park across the road.
Cosmos flowers in Autumn
From September the community grow cosmos in the same fields. They normally bloom from around mid September to early November. There are purple, orange, yellow and white cosmos. Like with the sunflowers, they allow picking of the cosmos for free as the season starts to wind down. The famous cosmos of Konosu are relatively nearby, if you are visiting by car. You could combine the two in the same day. Konosu allows flower picking in one field too. However, it is not free. They charge a nominal fee. Also, for anyone visiting in September, Kawajima has a beautiful and off the beaten path spider lily field that is relatively close too.
Don’t miss!: autumn roses in Heisei no Mori. The roses in Heisei No Mori park are quite well known throughout the Kanto plain. The park boasts the largest rose tunnel in Japan. They don’t really advertise their autumn roses as only a few bloom, but in May the roses in the park are spectacular.
Flower picking Information
The flower picking field in Kawajima is located to the West of the Kawajima Town Hall and Heisei no Mori Park. There is nowhere to park, but when there is only a couple of other visitors there most people park on the side of the road. However, the best place to park is at the town hall’s back car park. It is only a two minute walk to the fields from there.
|Address:||870-1 Shimoyatsubayashi, Kawajima, Hiki District 350-0122|
|Period:||Rapeseed – from around early March to mid April, picking from end of March.|
Sunflowers – early July to mid August. Flower picking is from around the start of August.
Cosmos – early September to early November. Flower picking is from around the start of November.
|Online:||Official Kawajima Tourism website|
The Shimoyatsubayashi area is located about a kilometer from the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-o expressway. By public transport its a little tricky, with only infrequent buses running from Kawagoe or Wakaba stations on the Tobu Tojo line. The park is a 20 minute walk from 「川島農協前」(Kawajima Nokyou mae) bus stop.
In the area
Fueki Shoyu Park is well worth a visit if you are in the area. And if you time it right you can take a free factory tour too:
Other attractions in the area:
Kawamin House public children’s community center with outdoor and indoor play areas.
Toyama Memorial Museum a period house with a museum and landscaped garden.
Bokuranote Dog Cafe and dog shelter, which just opened last year.