Japan is home to over 40 varieties of native azalea flowers. These beautiful flowers come in a variety of hues of pink, white, red, and more. They are typically in bloom from April through May.
Cultivating azaleas has been a tradition throughout Japanese history, though it truly took off during the Edo Period. During azalea season, there are a variety of spots to view azaleas in bloom and enjoy Japanese culture. Here are some of the best azalea spots in Japan!
1. Nezu Shrine, Tokyo
Nezu Shrine is 1900 years old, though the current structure was rebuilt after World War II. The shrine is known for its pathway of bright red torii gates and, of course, its azalea festival.
Bunkyo Tsutsuji Matsuri or Bunky Azalea Festival is one of the most popular spring flower festivals in Tokyo, held at Nezu Shrine from early-April to early-May every year. Take a walk through the azalea garden and feel the atmosphere why this place is so special to locals.
Several varieties burst into bloom throughout the tranquil grounds and the surrounding hillside. Locals come dressed in kimonos and stalls featuring food and games are set up.
You can reach the Nezu shrine by taking a train to Ueno station. It is a 20-minute walk from there. Be sure to explore the surrounding area while you are there, which is older and quite interesting!
Please note Nezu Jinja is one of the top places to see azalea in Tokyo and it’s worth returning for during springtime.
2. Shiofune Kannon-ji Temple, Tokyo
Located in Ome city of Tokyo Prefecture, this ancient temple hosts an incredible and colorful azalea festival every spring. Around 17,000 azalea bushes burst into bloom. Numerous important events happen throughout the festival.
At the start of May, the center of the temple with its idol of the goddess Kannon opens to the public. On May 3rd, there is the Fire-walking Festival. You can see experienced firewalkers as well as give a go at firewalking yourself. For most, a peaceful stroll through the colorful valley is a great way to enjoy the festivities.
From the area at the foot of the large Shiofune Kannon Statue, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of beautiful azalea bushes. Please note along with Nezu Shrine this is one of the best places in to photograph azaleas in Tokyo.
To get to the Temple, take the JR Chuo Lone Repaid from Tokyo Station of Shinjuku Station towards Ome and get off at Kabe Station. From there, Shiofune Kannon Temple is a 35-minute walk. The festival has a 300-yen entry fee for adults and 100 yen for children.
3. Mt. Yamato Katsuragi, Nara
Every spring, thousands of blooming azaleas decorate the hillsides at Mt Katsuragi. The pinks and red flowers present a stunning contrast to the green of the landscape and the blue of the sky.
Hiking through the area is the best way to see them as well as the ropeway to the top of the mountain. The hike is about 90 minutes. If you would like to stay overnight, you can book a spot at the mountaintop lodge in advance. If you opt for the ropeway, be sure to get there early to dodge the rush. It opens at 9 AM.
To get to Mt. Katsuragi, take the Kintetsu-Limited Express from Tokyo to Kintetsu Gose Station. From there, take a bus to Katsuragi-Tozanguchi Station and then take the ropeway to Katsuragi-Sanjo Station.
4. Mt. Tokusenjo, Miyagi
South of the charming city of Kesennuma, you will find Mt. Tokusenjo and its brilliant azaleas. This 711-meter-tall mountain is an easy and pleasant hike with a 2.5 hour round trip. This is considered one of the most popular azaleas viewing spots in Japan.
Over 500,000 azalea bushes turn the mountainside into a sea of pink every spring, making this hike a magical experience.
With two common varieties – the Japanese azaleas and mountain azaleas, this breathtaking flowering spot is a great sight to behold. During the azalea blooming season, you can take a seasonal bus to reach the sight from Kesennuma Station. Alternatively, hire a taxi but it will be costly.
5. Komuroyama Park, Shizuoka
Located in Izu City, this is one of the biggest azalea festivals in Japan. Besides more than 100,000 azalea bushes in bloom, you’ll also be able to enjoy a panoramic view of Sagami Bay.
Large, carefully cultivated azaleas form an amazing azalea tunnel. There are also numerous performances and markets for you to enjoy. The azaleas are also illuminated at night, making for a perfect romantic evening.
Entry is free. To get to Komuroyama Park, take a bus towards Komuroyama Lift 20 minutes from JR Ito Station, or walk 20 minutes from Izukyu Kawana Station.
6. Mifuneyama Rakuen, Saga
This large park is a striking sight with flowers in bloom and Mt. Mifune in the distance. It is located at the foot of Mt. Mifuneyama. Besides 50,00 azalea bushes, you’ll find cherry blossom and wisteria.
Besides strolling along the trails through the flowers, you can also enjoy a teahouse or hot springs. At night, the garden is lit up, offering a wonderful display.
When you think of returning here again, we suggest you to visit this place in autumn to see its gorgeous fall colors.
To get there, drive or take a 25-minute walk from Takeo-Onsen Station.
7. Matsumoto Azalea Park, Nagasaki
Few places have so many flowers in bloom in spring as Matsumoto Azalea Park. Numerous azalea flowers can be found here as well as moss phlox with its brilliant pink blooms. This garden is lovingly maintained.
Azalea, one of the spring blooms in Japan makes this garden a place not to be missed. If you are searching for a nice place to spend a few hours on the outskirt of Nagasaki city, then feel free to visit this garden.
Entry costs 500 yen. To get there, driving or a bus is your best option. The park is located 25 minutes from Nagasaki Airport. To take public transport, go to Omura Station on the JR Omura Line, then take a taxi to the park, a ride of about 15 minutes.
8. Tsurumine Park, Nagano
Located in Okaya-shi, this is the largest azalea park in central Japan. It originated somewhat accidentally- a village intended to plant 300 azalea bushes in a park, but the delivery was much, much larger, three whole freight cars full of azalea bushes! The village decided to planet them and today this vast park blooms every spring with numerous varieties of azalea.
The park has approximately 30,000 bushes of azaleas of 30 different kinds. Early-May is considered the best time to visit the park to see tons of colorful azaleas.
Tsurumine Park is 120 kilometers outside Tokyo, making it a good day trip.
9. Yahata Azalea Park, Tochigi
This 23 hectare park has approximately 200 thousands azalea flower plants. The rugged landscape of this national park offers azaleas and more. When the flowers bloom in spring, the slopes are colored red, which smell amazing as you hike along.
Going on a hike during the azalea flowering season is an epic adventure not only because you would see these beautiful flowers but also for majestic views of the mountains in the distance. You will enjoy and feel comfortable while taking a walk along the wooded walkways.
You’ll also find epic panoramic views, lush woods, and suspension views offering spectacular views of ravines. There is a ropeway and many campgrounds and accommodation to be found here.
The best time to see Japanese Azaleas at Yahata is from mid-May to late-May.
10. Kasama Azalea Park, Ibaraki
The lovely yearly azalea festival held here is a spectacular experience. This spring festival is called Kasama Azalea Festival. 8,500 azalea bushes will turn the park various shades of red all around.
You can also see wisteria in bloom with its dangling delicate purple-blue flowers. You can also see performances, mochi-pounding competitions, stamp-based treasure hunts, and even free food!
To get to the park on public transit, take the Mount Tsukuba Shuttle Bus from Tsukuba Station and get off at Mount Tsukuba Shrine for the cable car or at Tsutsujigaoka for the ropeway.
To get there by car, go from Tsuchiura-Kita IC on the Joban Expressway, then drive towards Niihari via the Mount Tsukuba Park Nagai Road (Purple Line) or on Route 125. It’s about a 40-minute drive from the IC.