It’s quite clear, that someone who once called Tokyo a concrete jungle, has never made any effort to actually discover this metropolis. The capital of Japan has a lot to offer to every flower lover.
To see beautiful flowers of the Jindai Botanical Garden we need to get to Chōfu, city located in the western end of Tokyo Metropolis (Chōfu is said to be a bedroom community for central Tokyo). Although getting to Chōfu isn’t particularly difficult (all we need is 15 minutes and 240 yen from the Shinjuku Station), it’s not a very popular destination among foreign visitors.
Jindai Botanical Garden (神代植物公園, Jindai shokubutsu kōen) was originally designed as a metropolitan plant nursery to supply trees and flowers for planting in the streets of central Tokyo. I decided to visit the park during the peak of wisteria blooming season, which partially overlapped with the end of peony and azalea season. All I could miss are the roses and water lilies, but let’s say one cannot have everything at once, right? 😉
Peonies are something I remember well from my home garden. Huge, heavy, crimson flowers usually greet me from the mid of May. While Peonies in general are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America, the Tree Peony is a species native to China. Japanese word for Tree Peony is botan (牡丹), but “peony” itself came from the name of Paeon, a Greek god of medicine and healing, who was turned into the flower by Zeus. In ancient China, the Tree Peony was often called a king of flowers. Emperors had them grown in the courts and painted on screens and scrolls. In 1903, the Qing Dynasty declared the peony as the national flower. Peony was a national flower of China until 1929. In 1964 the Republic of China officially designated the plum blossom as their national flower. The official flower of People’s Republic of China isn’t decided yet, but most of the people would like to see the Peony as a national flower again.
How did Peony get to Japanese Islands? I would say the traditional way. Japanese scholars and monks traveling to China brought Peony to the imperial gardens and Buddhist temples of Nara and Kyoto. It is said that direct descendants of the 8th Century peonies from China have survived in the Nara temples’ gardens till this day.
The feeling of
being drunk with tea
thanks to peony
Wisteria (Japanese: 藤, Fuji, like “Mt Fuji” ) is woody, perennial climbing vine, native to Eastern Asia and North America. Flowers of wisteria range from white, through different shades of pink, to purple. Among wisterias that you may find in the Jindai Botanical Garden, there is one special species – Wisteria longissima, whose long, thin flowers may reach more than one meter! Wisteria (藤) used to have a special place in the heart of the noble Fujiwara family – the family name means “wisteria field” (藤原氏). For the same reason the fuji flower was carefully protected at the Kasuga Taisha shrine, dedicated to the family’s guardian gods.
What you cannot see in the pictures is the unique fragrance of flowers. Both wisteria and peonies have amazing, sweet smell that makes you sure that Summer is just around the corner.
If you’re a true flower lover, take one extra bag with you – they still have plant nursery running, if you know what I mean…
Just to be certain that you will not miss your favorite blooming season, here are some of my favorite flowers which you may find in this botanical garden:
Flower Calendar of Jindai Botanical Garden:
January: Christmas rose, Camellia
February & March: Plum, Apricot
April: Cherry, Weeping Cherry, Peach, Azalea, Peonies
June: Rhododendron, Tulip Tree
June/July: Roses, Water Lilies
September: Orange Osmanthus, Silk Tree, Pampas Grass
December: Momiji (leaves changing colors)
1. To get to the Jindai Botanical Garden I took a Keiō Line train which stops at Chōfu.
The train ticket form Tokyō Shinjuku Station to Chōfu costs 240 yen, regardless if it’s local, rapid, semi-express or express train.
2. From the Chōfu Station I took a bus no. 34 which runs from the bus stop in front of the “Parco” Department Store (#14) and stops in front of the Botanical Garden (Jindai Shokubutsu-koen-mae).
3. Garden is open between 9:30 and 16:00. Entrance ticket for adults is 500 yen, seniors >65 pay 250 yen, school students 200 yen. No discount for university students 🙁
4. The garden is divided into two parts: the main part and a small garden with a water flowers only, about 5 minutes walk form Jindaijimon Gate.
5. Don’t miss Jindaiji Shirne, which is located in between two parts of the Jindai Garden! 🙂
6. I walked back to the station (2,3 km) via Tenjin Shopping street – a good place when you get hungry after sightseeing. It can be also easily reached from the Chōfu train station (3 minutes walk).
✿ For further details about garden tourism in Tokyo area take a look at A Flower Lover’s Guide to Tokyo: 40 Walks for All Seasons by Sumiko Enbutsu ✿