site of the former Shobu Castle with Iris

Information for the Iris Garden at the site of the former Shobu Castle.

Iris Garden at the Former Shobu Castle

This is one of Google Map’s funniest auto translate locations; on Google Maps the site is called “Iris Castle Toe Iris Gardens”! They’ve translated “Shobu” to Iris, which in one way is correct as 菖蒲 can also be read as Ayame. Ayame is the Japanese for iris. But in this case it is the name of the castle so it is just called ‘Shobu Castle’ even in English. I have no idea where the “toe” is coming from! Other sites online, such as TripAdvisor and the likes call it Shobujoshi Ayame Garden. Update April 2023: they fixed the name on Google maps and it now reads as Shobu Castle Ruins!

gate of the former shobu castle in Kuki City

The castle no longer exists. In the place of the castle they created an iris garden. Apart from the Iris, a gate, commemorative stones and a rest area, there is nothing at the old site of the Shobu Castle. There are approximately 16,000 Iris of 50 different variety in the garden. Iris is the official flower of Kuki City. In recent years, they typically bloom the first two weeks of June. I find the iris here have a very short life span, but it maybe just the weather has played a part the years I visited.

The iris garden at the castle site used to be the main area of the Kuki City “Blue festival”, which is now held at the Shobu branch office of city hall nearby. It is usually on from around the 12th to the 24th of June, or thereabouts. Thus, the iris – which used to bloom during the period of the blue festival – are generally finished by the first or second day of the blue festival in recent years! So the blue festival has become more about the lavender in the area.


Shobu Castle Ruins Ayame Garden 菖蒲城趾あやめ園

Address: 985-2 Shobucho Niibori, Kuki, Saitama 346-0105. View on Google Maps.

Season: generally around the first two weeks in June.

Hours: in theory the site is open 24 hours, but there is no lighting at night and the parking lot maybe roped off.

Cost: free and free parking


About a seven minute drive from the Shiraoka Shobu exit of the Ken-o expressway. There is a small free car park that fits around 10 cars at Shobu Castle.

By public transport, you can get a regular “Asahi” bus from either Kuki Station or Okegawa station. The bus from JR Takasaki Line’s Okegawa station (east exit) stops at the Shobu Castle Garden.

Official web page where they start posting updates on the conditions of the flowers from around mid May annually.

Check out even more Iris locations here.

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