Springtime is possibly one of the best times to visit Japan. And it’s impossible to think of this season without an iconic image of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Flowers are deeply symbolic to the Japanese, with flower viewing or hanami the nation’s favourite pastime. The blooms symbolise the transient nature of life and have featured in art, fabrics and poems for centuries. Nowadays you can even find petals sprinkled on top of your Starbucks latte, proving just how deeply rooted these flowers are within Japanese culture.
The famous cherry blossom festival continues to make headlines across Japan every year. But just shy of the limelight is another type of blossom that’s also adored by the nation – only this one blooms up from the ground beneath your feet. Relatively unknown, the blooming of the Phlox Moss, or Shibazakura in Japanese, offers an equally impressive experience to the popular cherry blossom. However, the largest and most vibrant display of these blooms remains relatively unknown to Western travellers. So if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the country’s flower-viewing culture, and want to experience an alternative spring flower festival in Japan, the stunning Phlox Moss Festival is the place to be.
A celebration of flowers, food and scenery, the Phlox Moss Festival is one of the most popular celebrations in Japan to see Phlox Moss in bloom. Located in the Greater Tokyo region, it’s held within the Fuji Five Lakes area – just three kilometres south of the beautiful Lake Motosuko. Every spring a vivid carpet of over 800,000 Shibazakura, the largest collection in Japan, gives life to the foot of Mount Fuji.
With Shiba translating to lawn and Zakura to cherry blossom due to the petals’ close resemblance, these flowers form spectacular fields covering around 2.4 hectares. With seven different varieties of Phlox Moss, in varying shades of pink, purple, white and red, these displays light up the landscape in a glorious sea of colour. And with the magnificent Mount Fuji as a backdrop, views out over the vast fields of Phlox Moss are truly spectacular.
What To Do
A network of footpaths allow you to walk amongst the vibrant Phlox Moss, where you can take photos and soak up the scenery at your leisure. For a bird’s eye view, it’s worth visiting the Panorama Plaza viewing platform. The 3.8-metre-tall viewing deck is a great spot for gazing out over the pink, purple and red hues. The park also offers shops, free WiFi and the Panorama Café where you can enjoy the views over lunch.
You could easily spend a whole day at the festival as The Mount Fuji Delicious Food Festival is held at the same time. A variety of stalls sell anything from Phlox Moss-themed souvenirs to pots of pink moss, food and local produce. You can try local cuisine such as Hoto stew and Udon. Or treat yourself to the famous local Yamanashi Black Ball sweets, Shingen-mochi rice cakes or Fujiyama sweet bean buns.
When To Go
The Phlox Moss Festival is usually held between mid-April and early June. However, the timing and dates are subject to change depending on the flowering conditions. The best time to see these beautiful fields varies every year. Although, the best blooms are normally visible during the first three weeks of May.
Due to the festival’s popularity, visiting early in the morning is best if you’re looking to avoid the crowds. However the afternoons tend to be better for good visibility and lighting. Above all, it’s a good idea to visit the festival on a clear day. When the clouds have left the majestic Mount Fuji unobscured you will be able to take the most impressive photographs.
This festival of flowers offers a beautiful yet alternative way of experiencing Japan’s ancient tradition for flower appreciation. A springtime trip to Japan or Mount Fuji would not be complete without visiting these vibrant fields of colour. You may even find them more enchanting than the famous cherry blossoms.
Why not time your trip to Japan with the Phlox Moss Festival? Most of our group tours offer dates where you would have the chance to experience this colourful event for yourself.