Giant Tulip Garden in Tokyo: MUST-SEE in April
In mid-April it is the perfect time to see rainbow fields of tulips growing near Tokyo. There are several popular locations, such as Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa, or the windmill in Sakura City, Chiba. Last weekend we went to Hamura in West Tokyo to check out the Hamura Tulip Festival.
It's not too far out, you just need to take the Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Hamura Station (you may need to change to the Ome Line at Tachikawa). That takes about an hour. Then from Hamura Station you can stroll to the venue in around 20 minutes, or take the local bus which comes once an hour.
When is it?
The date of the festival is always around mid-April, but it only lasts for 10 days and the dates vary, so check the official website to confirm: http://hamura-kankou.org/hanatomizunomatsuri/
The tulips are grown on the Negarami Mae Suiden-Rice Field, an area that covers over 59,000sqm, which is 1.26 times the size of Tokyo Dome! That makes Hamura home to the largest tulip fields in Kanto, with over 350,000 tulips.
In summer and autumn the town grows rice in the fields, and then in autumn and spring the tulips are cultivated. Many are planted by local children and volunteers from the town. The festival started in 1988 when a local group started a campaign for more flowers and greenery in the town. Good on them!
The fields are decorated with koinobori (carp fish streamers) that float above the flowers as if they are swimming in a sea of colour. They also have a viewing platform which you can go up on to get the best photo of all the flowers from an aerial view. There is a line to enter the platform, so we didn't bother as everything was so beautiful even from below.
If you get hungry, there are no shops next to the fields, but they have a few food stalls selling shaved ice, chocolate bananas, Takoyaki and so on.
What else is nearby?
Hamura is quite a small town, but there are a couple of things to do.
There is the Hamura Zoo, which was opened in 1978 and is only about 400 yen to enter. From the tulips it would take about 40 minutes to walk, but you can take a local bus. We took a bus to the city hall area, where there was a small mall with "Sushiro" restaurant where we could eat lunch, and from there took a second bus to the zoo.
The zoo only takes about 1 to 1.5 hours to see it all, but it's a good option to fill in the rest of the day. They have some interesting animals like giraffes and zebras.
There is also the Hamura Folk Museum. There you can learn about the history of the Tama River, along with the life and works of Kaizan Nakazato, an author who was born in Hamura. It's free and pretty small, but if you're looking for something to do it could be worth it.
Since you have to pass through Tachikawa to get to Hamura from central Tokyo, you could stop there and visit Showa Kinen Park for their tulips at the same time. If you do that, we recommend renting a bike at the park, as the park is big and you can get around much faster by bike (and it's more fun!).