Kawachi Wisteria Garden: A Purple Paradise
The first time I Googled Fukuoka, I saw the most incredible images of long purple flowers forming a majestic tunnel. What was this beautiful plant? Where could I see it for myself?
Soon I was researching all the best places to view wisteria near Fukuoka, Kyushu…
April is wisteria (fuji no hana, 藤の花) season in Japan. There are many places to see this delicate hanging plant, but the most exquisite display I’ve been to is at the Kawachi Wisteria Garden.
Since being named one of the Top 36 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Japan by CNN, this private garden has exploded in popularity for residents and foreigners alike.
(And for good reason, the flowers at this garden are impressive!)
If you are thinking about joining Japan’s #wisteriahysteria, use this guide to plan your travels!
Table of Contents:
- Set the Right Expectations
- Getting Tickets: Reservation Required
- How to Get to Kawachi Wisteria Garden
- Inside the Garden: A Spectacular Wisteria Experience
- Final Thoughts About Kawachi Wisteria Garden
- Other Wisteria Viewing Spots in Fukuoka
Set the Right Expectations
Since this garden is extremely popular, gaining access and having an enjoyable time can be a challenge unless you plan well and go with the right expectations.
During peak bloom (follow blooming updates on the official garden website), you will not be disappointed by the beautiful nature this site packs. However, the garden will be swarming with hordes of other guests.
For those who are photographers, note that getting shots without others in the frame will be very difficult and require a bit of luck, patience, and/or photoshop skill.
Getting Tickets: Reservation Required
With such high demand to visit the gardens, (who doesn’t want to walk through a fairytale scene of hanging flowers?), pre-reserved tickets are required.
If you live in Japan, the best way to get tickets is from ticketing machines at 7/11 convenience stores. There is no online purchasing option unless you buy through 3rd party sites which are much more expensive.
Getting your tickets from the machines can be a little confusing as all the menus are only in Japanese. I used Google Translate’s live camera feature to help me navigate the screens and got by without too much issue.
From the home screen, click through the “Ticket” → “JTB Leisure” → “Leisure Ticket” → “Kyushu / Okinawa” buttons to find a list of dates.
The machine doesn’t tell you which dates are sold out so you have to go click through each date to see if it’s available or not. (Super frustrating!)
If you are able to find an availability, the machine will print out a receipt that you need to bring to the cashier. The ticket costs ¥500 upfront, but if you go during peak season, an additional ¥1000 will be required at the garden entrance. After paying, you get your tickets!
The tickets I got were for the last time slot, right before closing. This ended up being very fortunate as the garden gets less crowded during this time and the sun is much better for photos.
How to Get to Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Kawachi Wisteria Garden is a bit inconvenient to get to- even more so if you don’t have a car! From Hakata I took the train to Yahata Station. Under normal circumstances a free shuttle bus runs between Yahata station and the garden, but because of Covid-19 the bus was not available in 2020 and 2021. Without the shuttle, you have two options:
- Bus + Walk: There is an infrequent bus that you can take halfway to the garden. Get off at the last stop, Kamijuta, then walk an hour around Kawachi Dam. The walk was pretty nice, but there was a bit of incline at the end.
- Taxi: A taxi between Kawachi Garden and Yahata station costs ~$25 and takes roughly 20 minutes.
At the garden entrance, show your ticket and pay the additional ¥1000 if needed. Congratulations, you made it to flower wonderland!
Inside the Garden: A Spectacular Wisteria Experience
Inside, you are free to stroll around and take in all of the abundant flora.
The first thing I noticed stepping into the garden was the smell. A beautiful scent emanated from the blooming flowers and screamed “spring is here!” It was so sweet, it reminded me of candy.
As I strolled, others around me periodically exclaimed “いい匂い” (ii nioi which means “smells so good!”) I couldn’t have agreed more.
The long arching tunnels felt surreal to walk under and showcased wisteria buds in colors I had never seen before. Shades of pink, purple, magenta, and white hung thick and full.
While wisteria is the star of the show, I was surprised to see so many other beautiful flowers in the garden, a nice bonus!
Final Thoughts about Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Compared to other wisteria sites I have visited (mentioned below), Kawachi Garden takes the cake when it comes to overall wow-factor and sheer area of trellis space. There are several downsides to visiting though: it is always extremely crowded, getting tickets is difficult, and transportation is limited.
That being said, it’s an incredible place! (But not somewhere I would make the effort to frequent every year.)
Other Wisteria Viewing Spots in Fukuoka
Looking for less hassle and crowds to enjoy wisteria? Try out these other locations around Fukuoka for just that! While you won’t need advance tickets (or rather any tickets at all) to get to these places, the displays are much smaller in scale and don’t feature the diverse range of color seen at Kawachi Garden.
- Buzō-ji Temple – 15 min train + 25 min walk from Hakata Station. A modest showing of wisteria with views of Buzō-ji Temple in the background. You can’t walk under the flowers at this location. It’s not very crowded and is close to a park and walking trails.
- Maizuru Park (舞鶴公園) – Extremely convenient if you live in Fukuoka City! It’s only 10 minutes away from Hakata Station by subway. If you miss the peak bloom, the trellis is still beautiful and lush with green.
- Kichijôji (吉祥寺) – Okay this place is actually a bit out of the way, (train + bus required), but I was able to visit in the same day I went to Kawachi Garden. There was a decent sized wisteria area, but they were already starting to die by the time I visited. Nearby is a small park you can walk around.
Looking for more flower love? Be sure to check out these other blog posts about Japan’s breathtaking nature!
- Spring and Summer Flower Guide: Fukuoka, Japan | Fukuoka – The best times and places to see flora in Fukuoka!
- Weekend in Yanagawa: Hina-matsuri, Canal Punting, and Cherry Blossoms | Yanagawa – Breathtaking cherry blossoms and canals.
- Nanohana Fields in Fukuoka, 菜の花 | Fukuoka – Fields of bright yellow mustard greens