Translated by Lester Somera
Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival 2019: See Mt. Fuji And 800,000 Pink Flowers!
Enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji and beautiful pink flowers at the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival! Blooming slightly later than sakura, the shibazakura appear from April through May.
Written by MATCHA
Shibazakura - Beautiful Pink Flowers Blooming in Spring
Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are the first flowers that people associate with springtime. Unfortunately, they are only in full bloom for ten days to two weeks. It’s a shame that the petals disappear in what seems like only an instant.
In Japan, after the sakura have come and gone, people also enjoy the shibazakura.
Shibazakura, or shiba-sakura, are perennial plants of the Polemoniaceae family, more exactly, a variety of flower known as phlox. They start to bloom slightly later than sakura, from April through May. The flowers are small, up to 1.5 cm in diameter. If several of them are spread out in a fan shape, the heart-shaped petals look a lot like sakura. The name “shibazakura” was derived from the way that the flowers cover the ground entirely, like a lawn, or shiba.
Shibazakura can be grown in planters, so you may see them around town. However, they are not such a common sight, unlike sakura trees, which are everywhere.
As the name suggests, one of the major appeals of shibazakura is seeing them blooming over a wide space, creating a lawn. For that reason, if you want to enjoy this sight, we recommend visiting somewhere with extensive plots of shibazakura fields.
A View of 800,000 Shibazakura and Mt. Fuji at the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival
One place to see such a gorgeous scene is the town of Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi, at the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival. This vantage point is the only place in Japan where you can behold the stunning sight of 800,000 pink shibazakura flowers - the largest such field in the areas around Tokyo - set against the splendid backdrop of Mt. Fuji, a World Heritage Site.
Incidentally, sakura blossoms are pink, but shibazakura flowers can be many colors, including white, pink, and purple. Here are some shibazakura which can be seen at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival.
The most vividly-pink variety is called “McDaniel’s Cushion.” The large flowers lend a brilliant color to the garden interior.
After their pure white flowers of the varieties “Montblanc” and “Little Dot” have bloomed, they form a lush carpet of verdant green that brightens up the landscape.
The flowers of the “Autumn Rose” variety are an elegant, rosy pink hue.
The view of different shibazakura varieties coming together to paint a multicolored landscape is a gorgeous sight, and one that can’t be replicated by sakura.
Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival 2019 Schedule
Dates: April 13 - May 26, 2019
Entry fee: adults (junior high and over) 550 yen, children 230 yen, children under two years of age are free.
The dates of this festival depend on the weather and the flowers themselves and are subject to change. Please refer to their Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival official website for more details.
Access to the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival Venue
During this event, there is a special Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival tour bus that departs from Shinjuku Station's South Exit bus terminal (Busta Shinjuku). It takes two hours and 25 minutes, and costs 2200 yen.
Or, there is a shuttle bus that departs from Kawaguchiko Station; it takes about 30 minutes. To reach Kawaguchiko from Tokyo, take the Chuo Line Special Express Kaiji or Azusa for about 60 minutes (reserved seats 2570 yen one way), and get off at Otsuki Station. From there, take the Fuji Kyuko Line to Kawaguchiko for about an hour (1140 yen one way).
Warm Up While You Enjoy the View
Another appeal of this event is the chance to see the scenery from special locations within the grounds.
For example, there is a foot bath observatory (100 yen entry fee) where you can check out the flowers.
Just take off your shoes, and you can enjoy the beautiful view of the shibazakura and Mt. Fuji while you warm yourself up. For onsen fans, there is a natural hot spring, Fujiyama Onsen, located 30 minutes away from the venue by car. It’s a perfect place to stop on your way back.
From the Viewing Plaza, perched 3.8 meters above the ground, you can see the shibazakura from above, as well. It’s the perfect place to snap a photo of the contrast between the flowers and Mt. Fuji.
This year, in addition to six shibazakura varieties, the festival will feature more than ten other kinds of flowers for visitors to enjoy, including hyacinths, primroses, and orchids.
Enjoy Local Dishes
At the festival, you can also sample food from the local areas surrounding Mt. Fuji. During the “Mt. Fuji Umaimono Festa,” you can try delicious treats like springy Yoshida udon noodles, miso soup with locally-sourced pork from Koshu Fujizakura, Fujinomiya yakisoba, and Yamanashi Prefecture’s famous Koshu-style chicken giblets, which are simmered in soy sauce and sugar. Even if you walk a lot, you definitely won’t need to worry about leaving the festival hungry.
2019 will mark the twelveth occasion of the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival, where you can leisurely enjoy gourmet food and scenery only possible in Japan.
The festival will last from mid-April to the end of May, but the flowers are starting to enter their final stages, so if you’re interested in seeing the vivid colors, you should visit as soon as you can.
*The information in this article has been updated for the year 2019.