The Next Best Thing To Sakura, Chichibu’s Shibazakura, Is Coming Up Soon!

The cold days of winter are finally behind us, the sun is out, the flowers are in full bloom and yes, it’s at last safe to say that spring is here officially and about to stick around for a while. Sadly, everyone’s favorite cherry blossoms bloomed already — amid some very cold days not quite perfect for hanami — and while we might be able to see some splendid sights for a few more days, it’s time to get ready to bid farewell to them.

Worry not however, because the next best thing to sakura — shibazakura — is just getting ready to steal the spotlight as the second wave of an equally mesmerizing hanami experience. And there is a perfect place to see this picture-perfect sight just an easy train ride from central Tokyo.

Shibazakura: A magnificent flower carpet

Shibazakura, also known as moss phlox, is a type of flower that grows on the ground and, with petals resembling cherry blossom flowers, the plant wins the honorable title of “sakura lawn.”

Its flowers bloom in white, pink and purple, forming colorful and seemingly endless flower carpets before your eyes.

Chichibu flower wanders

One of the most prominent venues to view these stunning flowers near Tokyo is Hitsujiyama Park in Saitama’s green- and adventure-rich Chichibu area, located just over an hour from Ikebukuro via the Seibu Line. In conjunction with Chichibu’s stunning landscape as a backdrop, the park presents a gorgeous spring floral paradise.

A popular annual event, the Chichibu Shibazakura Festival — this year held from April 12 through May 6, the last day of the long Golden Week — features some 400,000 fully bloomed moss phlox arranged in various shapes and swirls that stretch over four acres of the Shibazakura Hill, creating a scene right out of a painting.

 

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A post shared by 秩父表参道Lab (@chichibu.lab) on Apr 13, 2018 at 8:54pm PDT

The festival invites you to take a stroll around the shibazakura fields blooming in all colorful spring colors, or sit back and relax on the benches to enjoy the majestic Mount Buko landscape backdrop encompassing the park.

The festival also hosts a farmer’s market, where you can find everything from locally-grown vegetables and fruit to an award-winning miso potato and handmade soba noodles. Of course, classic Japanese snack foods, such as yakisoba and dango, will be up for grabs, too.

And if you ever get

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