Ofuna is well known for its bright white, bust statue of Kan'non that can easily be viewed from the train windows running on the JR East Tokaido Line. But, there are other sites in the area that make exploring off the Buddhist path so much more exciting. I discovered the Kanagawa Prefectural Ofuna Botanical Garden Flower Center (神奈川県立フラワーセンター大船植物園), simply known as Ofuna Botanical Garden, just 5-minutes from Ofuna Station by car. Located on the corner of Route 402 & 302, there is ample parking at just 220yen for the first hour.
Ofuna Botanical Garden opened in 1962 and visitors can always find something beautiful in bloom each season. For the month of October, admire the Rose, Camesa, Chrysanthemum, and Salvia. Oh, the classic beauty and fragrant smell of the roses! I spent most of my time here wandering around the paths of 1,200 rose bushes, before I remembered there was so much more to discover before closing time.
Just on the opposite end of the garden is the Greenhouse. Rebuilt in October 1992 to commemorate the 30th anniversary, visitors can take pleasure in viewing 1,300 kinds of exotic flower plants from tropical and subtropical regions throughout the year. The Water Lily and Orchid are just strikingly beautiful!
In between the two gardens is a large grassy area where children can run freely under the crisp autumn sky. There are a few park benches beneath the towering maple trees, too. Just along the concrete path is an arch trellis full of interesting hanging fruit. Thankfully, there are signs indicating the type of flower or plant written in English and Japanese. So, I immediately learned they are called, “Luffa Eegyptiaca” or “Egyptian Cucumber,” and are well known as the scrubbing bath sponge “loofah.”
According to the Kanagawa Prefectural Government website, the Peony and Japanese Iris have been cultivated here since the early 1920’s during the Taisho period. These particular flowers can only be seen here at the Ofuna Botanical Garden and the best viewing season is May and June. So, mark your calendars now!
The Ofuna Botanical Garden is a local hidden gem. Formally known as the Kanagawa Prefectural Ofuna Botanical Garden Flower Cen..