The Japanese love flowers, and wisteria are among their favorites. Wisteria are called fuji in Japanese, like Mt. Fuji, but unlike the mountain, the flower is pronounced by stressing the second syllable.
One of the best places to view fuji flowers is the Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク) in Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture. Ashikaga Flower Park features lots of blue, white and pink fuji, as well as yellow laburnum (Japanese: kingusari) that look like yellow colored fuji.
One large fuji tree is 100 years old and its branches are supported to create a huge umbrella of blue fuji flowers. There is also a long tunnel of white fuji flowers, while a tunnel of yellow kingusari needs a few more years to become an actual tunnel. Yae-fuji, a variety with more than the usual number of petals, can also be viewed.
Besides the fuji, you will find many other flowers, restaurants and a shop selling plants and local products. The entrance fee varies quite strongly depending on the season's beauty (see admission section below).
The fuji in Ashikaga Flower Park are usually in full bloom in the beginning of May, one to two weeks later than the fuji of Tokyo. Because Ashikaga Flower Park is considered one of the best spots to view fuji flowers in Japan, the park can be very crowded even on weekdays during the peak season.
In recent years, the park has also become very popular in the winter season for putting on a massive winter illumination display. Drawing larger and larger crowds every year, the park opens its gates every evening from early December to early February to let visitors wander through the elaborate exhibition.
Almost every corner of the park grounds are decorated in hundreds of thousands of multi-colored LED lights, covering flower bushes, lining walkways, and arranged into huge, creative objects and sets on an impressive scale. Some of the more eye-catching attractions include several large, continually-changing LED "screens" which cycles though creative imagery, music-syncronized light shows, light tunnels, and countless fuji-like LED chains hung from the same lattices the flowers hang from in the spring.
Take the JR Utsunomiya Line, JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line or JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Oyama (only a few shinkansen stop there) and transfer to the JR Ryomo Line. Get off at Tomita Station, one station before Ashikaga Station, from where it is a 15 minute walk to the park. The one way ride takes at least 70 minutes and 4000 yen by shinkansen or about two hours and 2000 yen by regular trains.
Alternatively, take the Tobu Isesaki Line from Tobu Asakusa Station to Ashikagashi Station. The one way ride takes about 70 minutes and costs 2000 yen by direct "Ryomo Limited Express" train or takes nearly two hours but costs only 970 yen by regular trains with transfers along the way. From the station, there are shuttle buses to the park (300 yen one way), however, they do not run on many weekdays and during winter. Alternatively, the park can be reached in a 20 minute taxi ride (about 3000 yen).
10:00 to 17:00 (late November to February)
Winter Illumination: 15:30 to 21:00 (early December through early February)