Admiring seasonal flowers is a favorite national pastime in Japan, and as I am also a huge flower lover, I decided to go to the Red Spider Lily Festival (September 16th -October 1st, 2017) in Hidaka, Saitama, about an hour and a half train trip from Tokyo. The Kinchakuda Manjushage Park is the largest park to expose the beautiful red lilies, higanbana, and although they can be seen from time to time near rice paddies in Japan, in this park you can see entire carpets of red that will make for an unforgettable view, unique in the world. I didn’t know about this place until I saw that it was popular among Japanese photographers on Instagram, so I decided to give it a try and see higanbana for the first time in my life.
How to get there?
To go there, I took the Seibu-Shinjuku Line Express to Hanno station and then the Seibu-Chichibu Local train to Koma station. This was the cheapest option for me, around 500 yen one way. From Koma station, there is a 15-minute walk to the fields of Kinchakuda, where the Manjushage park is located. The Seibu-Chichibu Line is also famous for, well, Chichibu! Although it was a while ago, and I need to visit it again (I wish to go during Spring <3), you can read about & see more photos from my trip to Chichibu here.
What to do & see
Although getting there might seem a bit complicated, with many trains to change and a short walk throughout an unknown little town, it wasn’t like this at all! The park was relatively easy to find as there were signs everywhere, locals selling bento, veggies, souvenirs along the way and many other tourists heading to the same place. Admission for the first part of the park, where many red flowers aligned, was free, but there was also a portion with a fee of 300 yen to enter, and that was, of course, the most beautiful part of the park. So you might as well pay this little fee if you plan to go all the way to Saitama for this. The advantage of the free part was that there were portions where you could enter the little flower patches and take nice photos from amongst them, whereas the “official” park, had all the flowers surrounded by little fences so going inside was not allowed. You could only walk around the designated pathways.
Let me tell you a little bit about the history of higanbana as well. Higanbana, Lycoris radiata or Red spider lily in English, is a flower with a rich history, a flower originally from China, Korea, and Nepal, later introduced in Japan. In Japanese, it is believed to have over 100 names but the most popular one is Higanbana (the equinox flower). Their bulbs are known to be poisonous, that is why they used to be planted near rice paddies and houses to keep away pests. This plus the intense red color and the form of the flower added to its image of a “death flower”, so maybe a deathly beautiful flower. This image of higanbana actually attracts many cosplayers and gothic fashion lovers from Harajuku, whose looks perfectly match the bloody red flowers.
I hope the photos below will convince you about the beauty of higanbana! 🙂
One of the many veggie stalls along the way
Cosmos flowers, some other pretty flowers of the season
Arrived at the Higanbana park
And because it is a matsuri (festival) you can find many festival foods 🙂