Kitakyushu is the northernmost city on Kyushu Island in Japan. In addition to Kokura Castle and the surrounding Katsuyama Park, known for its spring cherry blossoms, the area is famous for the wisteria tunnel located in Kawachi Fuji Gardens. Each spring, countless visitors flock to see this magical site. It is the 5th stop in the series A World Far And Away.
Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu is 5 hours from Tokyo, if you are taking the Nozomi, the high speed train out of the Japanese capital.
The Gardens encompass 10,000 square meters (less than an acre) and are privately owned. They were established in 1977. The site is located in the wooded hills south of central Kitakyushu.
Kawachi Fuji Gardens are home to 150 trees comprising 22 different varieties of wisteria. They start to bloom and reach their peak from the end of April to the middle of May. This will be when you will want to visit. It will be during the Fuji Matsuri or Wisteria Festival.
The main attraction of the Kawachi Fuji Gardens, are the wisteria tunnels. These structures combine architecture and nature known as arbortecture. One is 80 meters long (263 feet) and the other is a total of 220 meters long or 722 feet long.
Thanks to the flexibility in the wisteria vines, the resulting flowers can be used to create some mystical designs, including the long and winding tunnels that stand in the gardens.
The wisteria vines can grow up to 65 feet above ground and 33 feet laterally.
Tourists passing through the wisteria tunnels, are greeted with alternating illuminating flower paths, of various shades of blue, pink, purple, red and white.
There are huge wisteria trellises at the end of tunnels and one can see wisteria trees which are more than 100 years old.
The wisteria flower panicles have become famous across Japan, with festivals found throughout the country in the spring.
The famed Great Wisteria Festival in Ashikaga for example, gives visitors a view of 350 wisteria trees, dating back some 150 years.
The wisteria vines and trees, flower around the same time as Japan’s famed cherry blossoms, so late April and early May is the height of the season, for those wishing to see spring flowering gardens. The ideal time is Golden Week from April 21 and May 6.
There is a Wisteria Festival known locally as the Fuji Matsuri, at the end of the Golden Week.
In Japan, these varieties bloom in this order. Usubeni fuji (light pink) Murasaki fuji (purple) Naga fuji
(long) Yae kokuryu (double-petaled black dragon), and Shiro fuji (white).
A view point at the top of the hillside offers incredible views of the flowers. One can also see the surrounding valley, which is known for its abundant bamboo groves.
Wisteria tunnels gained world wide attention after their introduction on a website in 2012.
In addition, to the beautiful wisteria displays, Kawachi Fuji Gardens are known for the abundant autumn colors, that line the maple trees in the fall.
Address: 2 Chome-2-48 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi Ward, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture 805-0045, Japan
Phone +81 93-652-0334
The price is either 500 yen or $4.68 USD (United States Dollar), 1000 yen ($9.35 USD) or 1500 yen ($14.03 USD) depending on the state of the season.
Visitors up through middle school are free.
Tickets purchased in advance always cost 500 yen, and the eventual difference to the actual admission fee will be paid at the garden.
It is important to note, that advance reservations are required during the peak season (April 21 to May 06, 2018). These will provide for a specific date and time slot.
Outside of the peak season, same day tickets can be purchased at the gardens.
Online reservations and purchase of tickets will be possible through Japanican.
Alternatively tickets may be purchased through ticket machines at Family Mart and 7-Eleven convenience stores from March 15. An important fact is there is no English interface in the use of the machines.
How To Get There
If one is using public transportation, the best route for access to the Kawachi Gardens is from JR Yahata Station. It is 15 minutes from Kokura Station and will cost 280 yen or $2.62 USD each way.
A rental car may seem easier, but it is likely to be congested on weekends and any holidays, especially if your visit is during or close to Golden Week.
There are 200 free parking spots located near the entrance of the wisteria garden and the nearby Ajisainoyu bathhouse that can be used by visitors. These will be insufficient on both weekends on holidays.
The access road from the south tends to be somewhat less crowded and features two additional parking lots about a 15-20 minute walk from the Kawachi Gardens.
During the peak season a shuttle bus runs between Yahata Station and the Kawachi Wisteria Garden.
The Nishitetsu bus number 56 runs about once per hour from Yahata Station to Kamishigeta, the final stop along the line. It will take 20 minutes and a cost of 260 yen or $2.43 USD.
It will require 45-55 minute walk to the garden.
Days and Hours of Operations
Wisteria Season (mid April to mid May) 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (18:00) daily.
Autumn Color Season (mid-November to early December) 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (17:00) daily.
The best time to visit Zhangye National Park is from June to September, when the weather is comfortable. The combination of a strong sun and a little rain, brings out the colors more. Do not go when it is raining or cloudy, as sunshine is needed for the best viewing of the color gradations.
The rest of the year is quite dry. The Park is well below freezing and windy in the winter. Visiting is not recommended at this time of the year.
The best time to visit is in the morning and especially in the evening, where the color variation changes continuously. Sunset is at 7:30 pm local time in the spring and autumn and 8:00 pm in the summer.
It will be far more crowded July and August and on Chinese holidays. During the height of the tourist season, some 20,000 tourists visit daily.
Tourists typically spend between one and two hours in the gardens.
- Is available in nearby communities and in the city of Kitakyushu.
- There are no restroom (toilet facilities) in the gardens, visitors need to use the one provided at the entrance to the gardens.
- Photography is permitted, but professional equipment setups are not.
- You will need to take your meals at designated areas.
- The use of walking shoes, will make your excursion through the park far more enjoyable.