Japan is fortunate to have a wide array of springtime beauty to enjoy, and cherry blossoms are at the top of the must-see list for many. However, there are plenty of other gorgeous flowers, including colorful azaleas that bloom not long after sakura season passes. This guide covers 5 great azalea spots across the country.
Nezu Shrine, Tokyo
Tokyo's Nezu Shrine is one of Japan's most well-known azalea destinations, and the grounds are home to approximately 3000 azaleas in more than 100 species. Because there are early, mid, and late blooming azalea variants, visitors are able to enjoy their beautiful color for a longer period of time - and that's always a good thing! In typical years there is an azalea festival held on the grounds here, but this has been canceled for 2021 due to COVID mitigation measures. The shrine grounds will still be open for visitors to appreciate the flowers - just use common sense, maintain social distance, and mask up.
1 Chome-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0031
Shiofune Kannon, Tokyo
If you're in the Tokyo area, one of the best places to enjoy azaleas in all their glory is Shiofune Kannon. Situated on the outskirts of Tokyo, the grounds of the temple here are jam-packed with azalea bushes. The end of April and start of May are usually the best times to see them blooming, and it's worth the visit - it really does feel like you've entered a fairytale world. The grounds are usually free to enter, but when the azaleas are in bloom there's a 300 yen admission fee.
194 Shiobune, Ome, Tokyo 198-0011
Mifuneyama Rakuen, Saga
Kyushu doesn't miss out on the beauty of azalea season either, and Saga's Mifuneyama Rakuen is one of the region's best destinations to enjoy these flowers. There are around 200,000 azaleas in different varieties that fill the grounds here, including the Kurume and Hirado species. An annual spring flower festival is held on the grounds here from early April through until early May, and along with the azaleas you'll also find wisteria and spring maples.
4100 Takeocho Takeo, Takeo 843-0022 Saga Prefecture
Togakuin Temple, Kanagawa
Situated in a residential area of Kanagawa Prefecture, Togakuin Temple is an off-the-beaten-path delight for azalea aficionados. The compact grounds are packed with a number of colorful azalea bushes that bloom in different shades including red, purple, pink, and white, and there's something special about the vibrant blooms set against the traditional wooden temple structures. If spring isn't your thing, the temple also bursts with color during the autumn months.
1 Chome-8-1 Shibokuhoncho, Miyamae Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 216-0031
Tsutsujigaoka Park, Gunma
From around mid-April to early May each year, Gunma's Tsutsujigaoka Park in Tatebayashi is filled with color thanks to the 10,000 azalea bushes on the grounds. Breaking it down even further, the azaleas here are from 50 different varieties, including the likes of the purple maiden azalea, the white Ryukyu azalea, and the Asuka River azalea to name just a few.
The price of admission to the park differs slightly during the azalea season. When the flowers are at their peak, adult admission is 630 yen. When the flowers are just beginning to bloom or past their best, admission is only 310 yen.
3278 Hanayamacho, Tatebayashi, Gunma 374-0005