Ranzan ‘s lavender field “Sennen no Sono” is a manageable day trip from Tokyo. The lavender fields, which for one year were Japan’s largest, reopened to the public in 2022 for the first time since 2019. The area actually sustained a lot of damage in the 2019 typhoon Hagibis. Coupled with the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021 they decided not to open. During that time they concentrated on cultivating sections of the field that were damaged by the typhoon. The lavender blooms in June and the festival is on for just over two weeks during the bloom period. Please note; the fields are not accessible to the public outside the festival period.
‘Sennen no Sono’ Ranzan Lavender Field
Sennen No Sono is the name of the lavender field in Ranzan, that for one year, in 2019, enjoyed the title of Japan’s largest lavender field! In 2018 it was the largest in the Kanto area, but in 2019 they grew 50,000 lavender across eight hectares to make it the largest in Japan. Moreover, in 2020 they had planned to increase the size even further to at least 10.5 hectares of lavender. But that never happened. And it wasn’t just because of the pandemic: typhoon Hagibis in 2019 caused serious damage in the area. In 2022, they have only grown 22,000 lavender over 6.5 hectares.
Sennen no Sono is in Ranzan town in the Hiki district of Saitama. “Sennen” means a thousand and “sono” means garden. It is a garden in commemoration of two historical characters who once lived in the area almost a thousand years ago; Hatakeyama Shigetada and Yoshinaka Kiso. The remains of Sugaya-kan castle that was built by Hatakeyama Shigetada’s is viewable from the lavender fields. He was a very famous samurai warlord who currently features in the NHK drama “The 13 Lords of the Shogun”. In addition, the area is the birth place of Yoshinaka Kiso who was a a Shogun in the late Heian period.
Below an account of visiting Japan’s largest lavender field at Sennen no Sono, close to Tokyo. You can see photos from my 2022 visit here.
Visiting Ranzan Lavender Festival
Third time’s a charm – or so I had hoped when I visited Sennen no Sono for the third time this month. But there was no charm and no luck of the Irish on my side today, as I stood in the lashings of rain trying to get at least one good photo in the grey misty downpour.
The festival is only two years old although a small percentage of the lavender has been there for decades. In 2018 they decided to grow more to make it the biggest lavender field in Kanto (the area round Tokyo) and start a festival.
In 2019 they grew even more – 50,000 give or take, on eight hectares of land. And Sennen No Sono became the largest lavender field in Japan. There are five different types of lavender including a rarer type, a white lavender flower.
The lavender fields are roped off so that you can only access them from one point: the official entrance to the lavender festival grounds. In the main court yard they have several food booths and a couple of food vans. They sell local food as well as cuisine from further afar. They even have Turkish food on offer.
Despite the heavy rain today (June 24th 2019) and the fact that the lavender is only at about 60 to 70% bloom, I was glad I visited. If nothing else for the unique smell of fresh lavender. You get to take the smell home with you too! In the form of a lavender smelling postcard. You receive the postcard upon paying the 500 yen entry fee to the festival area.
A volunteer did offer that I pick some lavender, but at that point, after 40 minutes in the heavy rain, I was like a drowned rat. I was dreaming of my next destination, the eminent Showa Retro Tamagawa onsen, to warm up and dry my clothes off. So I politely turned him down. They have flower picking and craft events on at the weekends and occasionally on weekdays during the festival period.
Back at the car park, I ended up getting into a long conversation with the kindly volunteer there. A man who was spending his free time directing traffic (!?) in and out of the car park in the buckets of downfall. He told me that yesterday, Sunday June 23rd (2019), 5,000 people visited the festival. More than they had ever hoped for in one day, but also more than they could cater for.
The lavender field may have once been the biggest in Japan, but the festival is still quite small. They have a small area with food trucks, where you can pick up – among other things – lavender flavored ice cream! They also have a flower picking event. In addition, there is a lavender arrangement workshop. They normally have live performances too, but information for 2023 is not yet available. As aforementioned, in 2023, the fields are smaller than in 2019 with approximately 22,000 lavender over 6.5 hectares.
Date: Friday June 9th to Sunday June 25th 2023. You cannot enter the fields outside the festival period in 2022.
Cost: entry to the fields / festival is 500 yen per person over 12 years old. Picking lavender and the lavender arrangement workshop also cost 500 yen per person.
The lavender fields are about an hour and a half from Tokyo by public transport. You can get a Tobu Tojo Line train from Ikebukuro to Musashi Ranzan station. If you can, I suggest avoiding the “local” train as it stops at every stop en route and takes twice the time. If you get an express, semi express or commuter express the train will stop less frequently until you get to Kawagoe. From Kawagoe most trains will stop at every station.
From Musashi Ranzan station you can either take the long but pleasantly scenic 40 minute walk to the fields, or you can take a 20 minute bus ride. If you ask at the station they will direct you to the bus stop and if you tell the bus driver you want to go to the lavender festival s/he will let you know when to get off. The bus stop is about a ten minute walk away..
It is also quite a walk from the official free parking at B&G indoor pool to the lavender fields. But it is through rice fields which are currently a brilliant green. For people with an official disability car sticker you can park right by the festival area for free of charge. Since 2022, there is also a new Sennen no Sono parking lot nearer the fields, but there is a charge for that car park. It costs 500 yen per car.
If you don’t mind paying for parking, the car park of Ranzan Valley Barbecue area is right beside the fields. It costs 1,000 yen per entry, not per day. If you leave the car park (in your car) you have to pay another 1,000 if you want to park there again even if its just ten minutes later.
They have bike stands for anyone who comes by bicycle. And there is a taxi stand near the entrance to the fields too.