Ajisai (Wisteria) Flower and Firefly Festivals 2016

Hokubo Maniwa Firefly Festival 2016: lamp post (featured)

Hi guys! It’s Mrs. Wada back on duty. It’s rainy season already and rainy season means it’s season for ajisai flowers and of course, fireflies! This year we visited Kibitsu Shrine again for the ajisai (hydrangea) flower festival, here in Okayama City and then Hokubo, Maniwa City for the firefly festival.

Here’s my posts from our last year’s trip.

Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City

Hokubo, Maniwa City: Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies

 

Ajisai Flower Festival in Kibitsu Shrine

I was a bit worried about the weather but it turned out sunny on this day. It’s quite hot actually. We were already soaked in sweat just by climbing the stairway.

Ajisai Flower Festival in Kibitsu Jinja: top view

This long stairway surrounded by ajisai flowers is the main attraction of this festival. Many varieties and colors of ajisai flowers can be seen. At the time of our visit (June 12, 2016), it was still on the way to its peak period.

During our visit, we saw many students in the area. And later we found out that there was a practice of archery on that day.

 

Firefly Festival in Hokubo, Maniwa City

Same as last year, we left Kibitsu Shrine around 4PM and headed our way to Hokubo, Maniwa City. Since it was still bright when we arrived, we stayed around the main street and had coffee at a rice store turned into a cafe during the festival period. It serves cafe latte and mochi-mochi (chewy) waffle, for 200 yen per menu item.

Hokubo Maniwa Firefly Festival 2016: Rice store (cafe)

Hokubo Maniwa Firefly Festival 2016: waffle and cafe latte

Many food stalls sell yakitori, yakisoba, yaki-ika (grilled squid), and drinks. One place even serves “hotaru-dog” (firefly-theme hotdog in a bun). Live music and some old-time games are also available to enjoy.

Fireflies Watching – The Main Event

Hokubo Bicchu River: firefly watching site
Bicchu River during day time (firefly watching site)

 

Hokubo Maniwa Firefly Festival 2016: sky and fireflies
…and at night

 

Last year, overwhelmed by the number of fireflies in front of us, we ended up staying most of the time in one spot only before we realized we could have explored other areas of the river. This year we went to the other side of the river where we were able watch fireflies at a very close distance. For the first hour, fireflies stayed in just one area but as the time passed by, it started to spread throughout the river and went up higher above the trees.

More Information

Where to Park

From 7PM to 10PM, the area is really crowded and sadly many cars come and go the whole time which can be really disturbing. I hope they would restrict cars from entering the area at night during this season. The city provides free parking area not too far from the main street where food stalls are located. So if you are planning to come by car, I highly encourage to park at Hokubo Cosmos Dome then walk down your way to the main street which leads you to the firefly watching area.

Best Day and Time to Watch

The firefly watching event in Hokubo started last June 1 and will continue until end of the month. This week is already the peak period. Fireflies are more active when it’s not raining and not windy, so make sure to check the weather before you go. They slowly start to be visible from 8PM. If you want to avoid the crowd and have the scenery all by yourself, the best time would be after 10PM.

For other locations in Okayama Prefecture, you can get a list of the locations in this website (in Japanese). For Hokubo, check here.

Have a nice week!

By the way, here’s the manhole design of Hokubo, Maniwa City.

Hokubo Firefly Festival, Maniwa City: firefly design manhole
Firefly design manhole of Hokubo.

 

In Japan, you can find different designs of manhole in each city. Designs are usually related to what the place is famous for, firefly in this case. But Hokubo is also known for its cosmos flower field during August, which the location is just few kilometers from firefly watching site.

You may want to check these out as well!
Bike Trail at Kibi Plain
Strawberry Picking in Okayama
Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City
Hokubo, Maniwa City: Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies
Hinase Oyster Festival
Okayama Kyobashi Morning Market

 

Wisteria Flower Festival in Fuji Park, Wake Town

Wisteria Flower Festival, Fuji Park: wisteria flower, so purple

Wisteria Flower Festival, Fuji Park: welcome sign

Hi everyone! Mr. Wada and I went for a short trip to nearby town, Wake (pronounced as WA-KE), in Okayama Prefecture to witness the blooming of wisteria flowers in Fuji Park during the Golden Week holiday.

Wake Town is just an hour drive away from Okayama City. We arrived already past 3:00 PM. The parking area was jam-packed and there were many people in the area.

We immediately headed our way to the wisteria flower park. Right before the entrance, you would find food stalls. Actually, it was Wisteria Festival during that day. Got some snack now, so let’s go and check out wisteria!

Wisteria Flower Festival, Fuji Park: ticket machine

They got ticket machines installed. Pretty good for a smooth process. Ticket costs 300 yen per person. Quite affordable and parking is free.

Welcome to Wisteria Flower Festival in Fuji Park, Wake Town

Wisteria Flower Festival, Fuji Park: entrance

After many years, I’ve finally visited a wisteria flower park! For the past years, I’ve always missed it. I couldn’t hold up my excitement anymore when I see this from the entrance.

Different Wisteria Flower Varieties in Color and Form

This place boasts of 100 varieties of 150 wisteria flower trees taken from different places in Japan and some from abroad.

I was surprised to see other colors than the usual purple one, even in different forms.

Fuji Park, Wisteria Flower Festival: bud-like wisteria

I happened to encounter a group of visitors together with the staff of the park explaining about this particular variety of wisteria flower. He said that many would think this one is still a bud when actually this is already on its final form. He added that this one is very unusual the fact that it doesn’t open up to invite bees for pollination.

Wisteria Flower Festival, Fuji Park: Yaefuji

This one on the other hand is called Yaefuji. Like Yaezakura (yae + sakura), the petals are piled up makes it look a lot fuller. Lovely!

Aside from the appearance, another thing to enjoy about wisteria is its aroma. The smell isn’t that strong but once the wind blows, suddenly the aroma spread all over and it really smells good.

Light-up Event Info, Videos and More…

This is how it looks like at night. Lights turn it up very differently.

If you are currently in Japan, it’s now a good time to visit wisteria flowers. Wisteria flower in Fuji Park already past its peak, but there are many other places throughout Japan that you can still visit. One of them is the famous Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture (flower status and English page).

To end this post, here are some more photos and videos I took during our visit. Enjoy! Did you visit any festivals recently? How did you spend your Golden Week holiday? Share your experience with us!

Wisteria Flower Festival, Fuji Park: take-care sign
Take care!

 

Fuji Park Information

Name Fuji Park
Business Hours  08:00 AM – 09:00 PM
Entrace Fee 300 yen for adults
150 yen for children
(Free on low season)
Events Wisteria Flower Festival
Access
Fujino, Wake, Wake District, Okayama Prefecture 709-0412

3.7 km (about 37 minutes by walk) from Wake Station
In Wake City’s website, it indicates bicycle rental is available.

https://goo.gl/maps/UN1NNmN3Fhr