The Yamabuki no Sato Historical Park: One of the few Yamabuki (yellow rose) flower spots, and the most famous for Kerria Japonica, in the Kanto plain.
Yamabuki are a beautiful vivid yellow flower. The flower is often referred to as a yellow rose as the genus is in the rose family. However, they don’t look much like roses at all though. They look more like marigold and are actually often called Japanese marigold or the miracle marigold. The official name for them in English is Kerria Japonica, after Scottish gardener William Kerr who introduced them to the “West” in the early 1800s. It is a double flower and it blooms in April in Saitama Prefecture.
There are two types. The natural form with five petals which is a paler yellow as in the photo above. And the vibrant “pleniflora” as in the featured photo at the very top of the post.
The flower has featured in many Japanese literary works, including the famous “Tale of Genji”, by Murasaki Shikibu. Also, one of the legendary tales of Ōta Dōkan tells a beautiful story of a girl with a yellow rose. And this tale also explains why Ogose in Saitama Prefecture has a place called Yamabuki no Sato:
Yamabuki no Sato
Yamabuki no Sato is a small tourist spot in Ogose. Despite, being a small and otherwise unexciting location, it has one of one of the largest Kerria Japonica displays in the greater Tokyo area. Maybe even in Japan. Even at that, it is not particularly huge. There are approximately 3000 Kerria Japonica and they bloom from mid to late April.
The layout of the small park is quite unusual. There is a foreground area with a small green, public toilets, the water mill and a restaurant. There is a small river too. When you cross over the bridge there is a double staircase in a horseshoe shape. Either staircase leads to a small opening at the top of the steep hill. If it wasn’t for the semicircular staircases, it would be a difficult climb to the top. Its almost like a cliff front. Up top there is just a small green area with a great view. There is a water drinking fountain and a small gazebo.
The reason the park exists where it does is because Ota Dokan’s father lived in Ogose. Ōta Dōkan was a Japanese samurai warrior poet in the 15th century. He is most famed for designing and building the Edo Castle. He also built Iwatsuki Castle in Saitama City.
Supposedly, he would sometimes visit his father in Ogose. The story goes (and there are many different variations of it!) that one day he stopped at a house to borrow an old fashioned type of raincoat called a mino. Because the family were poor they didn’t have a mino. Rather than say that directly, the daughter of the house offered him a yamabuki flower and quoted a waka Japanese poem “Yamabuki-no-Mino”.
“The Yamabuki enriches our house with flowers, yet there is sadness here, for these riches are an illusion, & our flower has no mino.“ Source: Paghat
The ‘mino’ in the poem means “no seeds”. But she used it as mino for raincoat. Ota thought she was being facetious. However, later he realized she wasn’t, and the poem offered a very clever pun. Upon realizing his mistake vowed to learn Tanka poetry. He later mastered it and it is thanks to this encounter that Ota went onto master Tanka poetry.
There is a famous woodblock print of this story. In the woodblock, it can be seen that the flower matches the five-petaled mon or family crest on his garment. (Source: Fuji Arts). You can also see a mill in the woodblock. There is a mill similar to the one in the woodblock at the site today. I doubt it is the original one from the woodblock or from the original story, but who knows!?
The woodblock also shows a cherry blossom tree. I did see two cherry blossom trees in the entrance area. However, they don’t bloom at the same time. There were a couple of blooms left on each, but they appear to be of the variety that bloom end of March early April. We visited April 22nd 2020. I did, however, see azalea and they were starting to bloom.
If you are interested in the rare and beautiful Yamabuki rose, it is one of few places you can see a large display of the flower near Tokyo. Maybe in all of Japan. Also, if you are a fan of Ota Dokan, this place maybe of interest. Furthermore, if you are in the area during bloom season it is worth a stop. Ogose town has some nice hiking courses which incorporate a stop here. However, I will say, that it is not the most exciting place. You would only need about 30 minutes here. And outside of the bloom period, it really isn’t worth visiting unless you are geocaching!
In the area
- Glamping, BBQ, Baths, Play at Opark (You Park) | OGOSE
- Visiting Ogose Bairin Plum Blossoms
- Azalea at Godaison Tsutsuji Park | OGOSE – maybe in bloom at the same time as the Yamabuki flower
- Sakuranoyama Park
Yamabuki no Sato Information
|Address:||Neoi, Ogose Town, Iruma District, Saitama 350-0412|
|Online:||On Ogose town’s official website|
There is free parking for about 6 cars. It entrance is quite narrow due to concrete curbs of the pavement.
Less than a ten minute walk east of the JR Hachiko line and Tobu Ogose line’s Ogose station.