6 Splendid Gardens and Flower Fields in Tochigi: Ashikaga Flower Park and Others

Hydrangea Festival: The Magical Flowers At Kurobane Castle

Once visited by Matsuo Basho, Kurobane Castle continues to captivate with its beautiful hydrangeas. The hydrangeas at Kurobane Castle Park in Tochigi bloom during the rainy season in June and July. When the rain clouds clear up, visit for a unique, flower-filled sight.


Kurobane Castle and its Hydrangeas

kurobane castle and hydrangeas

The grounds of Kurobane Castle Park during hydrangea season. Photo by Pixta
Kurobane Castle lies in Otawara, a city in northern Tochigi Prefecture. A well-known landmark, the castle was established in 1576 by Ozeki Takamatsu and named after the prosperous Kurobane Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate. As the number of castles began to decrease in the Edo period, Kurobane Castle was later reconstituted as a fortified administrative center, and is a popular local park today.

Once the weather begins to warm up in early summer, park visitors are greeted by beautiful hydrangeas blooming on the grounds of Kurobane Castle Park. The flowers are so lovely that Kurobane Castle Park holds a Hydrangea Festival annually from mid-June until early July.

Continue reading to learn more about this special spot of beauty and historic value and the gorgeous flowers.

The Annual Kurobane Hydrangea Festival

kurobane castle and hydrangeas

Photo by Pixta
Hydrangeas originated in Japan and are known throughout the country as the flower of the summer. Unlike their Western counterparts, hydrangeas in Japan typically bloom during the rainy season in June and July.

Each year, about 6,000 hydrangea flowers bloom at Kurobane Castle which brightens up the area and adds an exciting festive atmosphere to this otherwise quiet town. Visitors can come and enjoy a pleasant walk through the castle grounds to take in the beauty of the flower garden. During this time of year, Otawara receives many visitors from Tochigi and its surrounding areas.

Hydrangea Festival: The Magical Flowers at Kurobane Castle

Photo by Pixta
The blooming hydrangeas of Kurobane Castle give the entire park a fairytale-like essence. As the light bounces off the flower petals, you’ll quickly see a chance for some amazing photos and Instagram-able backgrounds.

* In 2020, the Kurobane Hydrangea Festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreaks. The pictures in this article were taken during a previous edition of the festival.

Matsuo Basho's Legacy

Ajisai Festival: The Magical Flowers at Kurobane Castle

A stone path through Kurobane Castle

Although the information provided on the grounds is entirely in Japanese, Kurobane Castle has a rich history that even foreign visitors can enjoy. Matsuo Basho, one of the most famous poets of the Edo period, stayed here during his travels. It’s rumored that Kurobane Castle was his longest stay before departing to the Tohoku region.

The museum located at the park is open to all guests and features items and replicas detailing the history of the castle. Visitors can enjoy various performances and shows hosted by locals. Food stalls (yatai) are also available for some light refreshments, where you can also buy some hydrangea souvenirs to take home.

Access to Kurobane Castle

Hydrangea Festival: The Magical Flowers at Kurobane Castle

Photo by Pixta
Access to the festival isn’t difficult, but it requires some careful planning if you don’t have your own form of transportation. From Shinjuku Station take the Shonan Shinjuku Line to Utsunomiya Station. From there, switch to the Utsunomiya line towards Kuroiso and exit at Nishi-Nasuno Station. Once at the station, take the east exit to get to the stop for the free shuttle bus.

If you miss the shuttle bus, you can take the local bus for just under an hour to the flower park, but it will cost about 200 yen. The buses will drop you at the base of a small hill and from there you simply follow the signs up towards the castle grounds.

Once you arrive at the festival, expect to be there for at least two hours since the bus and shuttle only come sporadically. Be careful as the last bus from the event departs at 19:00 exactly.

Main image by Pixta


The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.