Saitama Tulips – Japan Travel ideas for April
During this Coronavirus lock down period virtual travel is not the only booming trend, Japan travel planning is also on the increase. As people look forward to a life after Covid, they are thinking about all the places they want to travel. April is a great month to visit Japan. For several reasons, not least of all the cherry blossoms.
But cherry blossoms are not the only bloom in Japan in April, we have dozens including nemophilia, azalea, shibazakura, peonies and even tulips. There are several famous tulip viewing locations throughout Japan. People even travel specifically to Japan to visit some of these photogenic locations, such as the Sakura Tulip Festival in Chiba with more than half a million tulips.
Saitama hasn’t been particularly famous for tulips, but in the last couple of years one location has increased its fame and popularity for tulip viewing. If you search (in Japanese) for the best places to view tulips in the Kanto Region, one location in Saitama comes up time and time again. Omiya Hana no Oka Norin Park, a park straddled between Saitama and Ageo cities in central Saitama.
The location close to Tokyo, but not in Tokyo is one of the draws of this otherwise unassuming park in the rural area of Omiya, a large ward in Saitama Prefecture’s capital city. Part of the park is also in Ageo city which like Omiya is a commuter city. Many people travel to Tokyo to work daily from these cities, but neither are densely populated or crowded metropolis. And both have maintained green, nature and rural areas of the city.
Coronavirus State of Emergency Saitama
Japan is in a State of Emergency until May 6th. It was declared for the entire country on April 16th. Currently, Okayama Prefecture is the only prefecture that is not complying to the nationwide “request”. Due to legal restrictions Okayama has the right to do this and similarly that is why Japan’s lock down looks nothing like other countries around the world. The recommendations are not enforceable by law and are not strict with the result that 60% of the workforce still go to the office daily (Source: Kyodo News).
Several of Saitama’s tourist attractions have been closed. Including large parks and flower events. However, with the exception of government and certain prefectural parks, the majority of parks in Saitama are open during Covid-19. Whether you chose to visit them or not is at your own discretion. During Saitama’s State of Emergency the following has been advised:
Please also try to limit the number of interactions with others wherever possible. Aim to practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters at all times, and keep conversations brief and succinct. That being said, taking a walk and playing outside with your children, who are easily susceptible to stress, do not need to be as strictly avoided. However, when doing so, please be sure to meticulously follow coughing etiquette and other preventative measures such as thoroughly washing your hands after returning home.Source: Transcript from Saitama Governor Ono’s Press Conference April 7th 2020
Omiya Hana no Oka Norin Park
There are of course several other places you can view tulips in Saitama, but Omiya Hananooka has made quite a name for itself. Not just for tulips, but as a seasonal flower mecca for photographers and instagrammers. The park has featured on this blog in the past for its saliva and kochia.
Tulips in Omiya Hana No Oka
Tulips are perennial, but they are treated as annuals in many places in Japan (and worldwide). The flower space in Omiya Hana no Oka is reused throughout the year to display seasonal blooms, so the tulips are replanted annually. There are approximately 24,000 tulips over 3.3 hectares in the park (Source: Saitama Photo Blog – Japanese language only).
They normally bloom for all of April and until early May. However, this year 2020 they came into bloom earlier than normal and they will probably finish up earlier than normal too. Which is a pattern we are seeing with all blooms, flowers and flora this year. There are various colors including white, yellow, pink, red, purple and even a few two toned tulips too.
The park is split into two separated by a road. The east end of the park on the far side of the road is just a small park with flora displays its main attraction. This is where one of the larger tulip displays is.
Display by the bridge
The white bridge in the center of the main part of the park is somewhat an icon of Omiya Hana no Oka. A lot of the seasonal displays are landscaped to have the bridge in the background. The tulips are no exception.
Also in bloom
Other trees and flowers that bloom in Omiya Hana no Oka in April include:
- Cherry blossoms
- Yaezakura or double cherry blossoms. Yaezakura is the collective name for cherry blossoms with more than five petals.
The cherry blossoms generally bloom the last week in March and the first week in April. However, as they were early this year, they were finished by the start of April. Those that timed it right got to see and take some photos of the sakura with tulips. A truly beautiful sight.
Yaezakura are also currently in bloom in the park too. They are near the central picturesque white bridge.
On the west end of the park there is a shibazakura display. It is quite small and isn’t in any particular pattern (that I could discern), but it is beautiful all the same.
I was so happy to see nemophilia this year at Omiya Hana no Oka. Even if they weren’t as dramatic and impressing as the displays in Shinrin Park or Hitachinaka Seaside Park. They have both white and blue nemophilia displays dotted around the park.
There are a few azalea bushes in the park. Only a few were in bloom. To be honest, I am not sure if they are late or were early. But judging by azalea in my own neighborhood, I would say that quite a lot of the azalea are already finished for this year.
Omiya Hana No Oka Information
|⏲||8 am to 6 pm|
|〒||124 Nishiarai, Nishi Ward, Saitama City, Saitama 331-0049|
Access Hana no Oka Park
You can get a bus from the west exit of Miyahara station on the Takasaki Line to Omiya Hana no Oka park. However, please note, it only stops at the park three times a day. The Ageo city bus stops at the park too. It is also not very frequent, but during office hours there is generally one an hour.
The park is located off route 17, the newer route not the Nakasendo way. The park is about a 20 minute drive from the Ken-o expressway Okegawa Kitamoto interchange along the new route 17. There are three main car parks for the park. One of the parking lots is on the Ageo side and the other two are on the Nishi ward side in Saitama City. All are free.