Wisteria belong to the most-loved flowers in Japan. They are called fuji in Japanese, like Mt. Fuji, but unlike the mountain, the flower is pronounced by stressing the second syllable (and is written with a different character).
One of the best places to view wisteria 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 wisteria, as well as yellow laburnum (kingusari) which look like yellow colored wisteria.
One large wisteria tree is 100 years old and its branches are supported to create a huge umbrella of blue wisteria flowers. There is also a long tunnel of white wisteria 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.
The wisteria in Ashikaga Flower Park are usually in full bloom in the beginning of May, one to two weeks later than the wisteria of Tokyo. Because Ashikaga Flower Park is considered one of the best spots to view wisteria flowers in Japan, the park can be very crowded even on weekdays during the peak season.
Besides the wisteria, 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 park has also become very popular in the winter season for putting on a massive winter illumination display. Drawing large crowds every year, the park opens its gates every evening from mid October to midy 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 cycle though creative imagery, music-syncronized light shows, light tunnels, and countless wisteria-like LED chains hung from the same lattices the flowers hang from in the spring.
By Japan Railways (JR)
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 Ashikaga Flower Park Station, next to the park. The one way ride takes about 80 minutes and 4000-4500 yen by shinkansen or about two hours and 2000 yen by regular trains. It is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, Tokyo Wide Pass and some other JR passes.
By Tobu Railway
Take the Tobu Railway from Tobu Asakusa Station to Ashikagashi Station. The one way ride takes about 70 minutes and costs 2040 yen by direct "Ryomo Limited Express" train or takes nearly two hours but costs only 990 yen by regular trains with transfers along the way. From the station, the park can be reached in a 20 minute taxi ride (about 3000 yen one way).