Kawachi Wisteria Garden (河内藤園, Kawachi Fujien) is a private garden in the wooded hills south of central Kitakyushu, famous for its spectacularly presented, large numbers of wisteria flowers. The garden is opened to the public seasonally during the wisteria season which usually peaks around late April to early May and during the maple leaf season in autumn.
The garden's most prominent features are two, roughly 100 meter long tunnels made of wisteria trees of differing varieties and colors, ranging from white to dark purple. Furthermore, there is a collection of large wisteria trees that together form an enormous roof of drooping flowers. A viewpoint at the top of the hillside garden allows for nice views over the sea of wisteria flowers and the surrounding valley which is also know for its bamboo groves.
Kawachi Wisteria Garden has grown very popular in recent years and now attracts large numbers of domestic and international visitors during the wisteria season, which often falls into the busy Golden Week. As a result the garden can become very crowded and time-consuming to access.
Access to the Kawachi Wisteria Garden is not straight-forward. By public transportation, it is best accessed from JR Yahata Station (15 minutes, 280 yen one way from Kokura Station). A rental car can make a visit easier, but note that bad traffic jams can occur on weekends and public holidays during the flowering peak season which often falls into the busy Golden Week.
By shuttle bus
During the peak of the season, a shuttle bus runs about twice hourly between Yahata Station and the Kawachi Wisteria Garden. On busy days, the shuttle bus may get affected by the traffic jams.
Nishitetsu bus number 56 runs about once per hour from Yahata Station to Kamishigeta (上重田), the final stop along the line (20 minutes, 260 yen one way); however, from the bus stop it is still a 45-55 minute walk to the garden. Because the bus stop is located far away from the garden, the buses are unlikely to get affected by the traffic jams that build on busy days.
About 200 free parking spots are located near the entrance of the wisteria garden and the nearby Ajisainoyu bathhouse that can also be used by visitors without the intent of using the bathhouse. The capacity of the parking lots is sometimes sufficient on regular weekends, but it is usually insufficient on weekends and national holidays during the flowering season. As a result, there can be long traffic jams especially along the road that approaches the garden from the north, i.e. from central Kitakyushu. The access road from the south (e.g. from Yahata IC or Kokura-minami IC along the Kyushu Expressway) tends to be somewhat less crowded and features two additional parking lots about a 15-20 minute walk away from the garden.
The garden is open from 8:00 to 18:00 during the wisteria season (mid April to mid May) and from 9:00 to 17:00 during the autumn color season (mid November to early December). The admission during the wisteria season is 500 yen, 1000 yen or 1500 yen depending on the state of the season. Tickets purchased in advance always cost 500 yen, and the eventual difference to the actual admission fee has to be paid at the garden.
Important: Advance reservations are required during the peak season in spring!
During the peak of the season from April 24 to May 6, 2020, tickets for a specific date and time slot have to be purchased in advance in order to enter Kawachi Wisteria Garden. Visitors without advance reservations will not be allowed into the garden!
Tickets can be purchased through ticket machines at 7-Eleven and Family Mart convenience stores from March 16, 2020, but note that these ticket machines do not have English user interfaces. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online through Voyagin at a considerably higher cost.
Outside of the peak season, same-day tickets can be purchased at the garden.