By Bryan Baier
Wisteria are gorgeous flowing flowers that bloom in Japan in late April early May. The flower's unique hanging characteristic makes it a very mystical and beautiful flower to enjoy walking under. Its color varies in different shades of purple, ranging from light, almost-white baby purples to stunning bright purples, with some pinks in between! Golden Week (an annual public holiday in Japan where several public holiday days follow each other consecutively to make one long holiday) is also in May, providing the perfect chance for many to make a getaway to Nara's Manyo Botanical Garden and enjoy its wisteria garden. Indeed, the Golden Week period in early May is probably the best time to go as that is when the wisteria are in their prime.
Manyo Botanical Garden is located inside the greater borders of Nara Park, and is approximately a half hour walk from Kintetsu Nara Station. It costs 500 yen for the garden entrance fee. The suggested plan of action is to walk from Kintetsu Nara Station to Nara Park (which is a shorter walk than the 45 minute walk from JR Nara station). In Nara Park you can enjoy seeing the many deer roaming around for free. After that, make your way towards the eastern area of the park, where you will find one of Nara's most famous shrines, Kasuga Taisha. The shrine can also be visited for free, only charging entrance for the inner area. Finally, you can enjoy the wisteria viewing at Manyo Botanical Gardens, which is just a short walk away from Kasuga Taisha.
The gardens are usually quite busy at the Golden Week, with many tourists (both local and international) coming to enjoy the wisteria season. However, despite the crowds it was personally still an enjoyable experience when I went during Golden Week of 2015. The gardens were in pristine condition, and the wisteria greatly emphasised the natural beauty of the gardens. Management was also very kind to put up signs restricting the usage of selfie sticks and tripods, in order to provide the best wisteria-viewing experience possible for everyone. While you might have to wait for others to finish taking their photos and selfies with the flowers, the wait is not unbearable as you can simply enjoy looking at the wisteria with your own eyes before capturing it with your camera's eyes.
The wisteria experience in Nara at Golden Week is one you would not want to miss, and lets you enjoy the holiday atmosphere of Golden Week in a beautiful way, surrounded by nature's seasonal beauty.
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I love Japan for its people, culture, food, scenery, and overall ambiance and never-ending list of things to explore and enjoy. I lived in Kyoto for one year as an exchange student, and was able to travel around various parts of Japan during that exchange time. Now I'm back in Auckland, NZ, but am aiming to be back in Japan soon in the future for travel or work!