Top 5 Places to Enjoy the Spring Flowers
Japanese culture is all about the joys and charms of the four seasons.
Why not let this notion be reflected in your travel plans to the islands? Here is a list of the top 5 places to visit in the Oki Islands in spring – a subjective selection of flower wonderlands I would not want to miss out on this year.
Oki Shrine, Ama Town
The place where exiled Emperor Go-Toba is enshrined and hands down the best cherry blossom viewing spot on the islands. There are some two hundred fifty trees planted along the way from the torii gate to Oki Shrine itself. When in bloom, they wash the whole place pink, turning the shrine approach into a tunnel of flowers. Visit this major sightseeing spot of Ama Town from early to mid-April, to experience local history and do hanami like an Oki native.
Mt. Akahage, Chibu Village
The 360-degree view of the Dōzen Caldera earned Mt. Akahage a firm spot on the list of year-round must-see sightseeing spots. But a hike up its slopes in springtime reveals an especially lovely sight, as the whole area is covered with delicate blossoms. Blooming from mid April to mid-May, the Japanese wild radish flowers carpet the summit of Mt. Akahage. White with a touch of purple, they make Mt. Akahage look like a place taken out of a Japanese fairy-tale. Let them be another reason to put Chibu Village into your travel itinerary!
Murakami-ke Oki Rhododendron Park, Okinoshima Town
If you happen to visit Goka Area in Okinoshima Town sometime between late April and early May, be sure to make a small detour from Mizuwakasu Shrine to Murakami-ke Oki Rhododendron Park. Located within a short walking distance, it features around ten thousand Oki rhododendron flowers, a subspecies endemic to the islands. Yes, there really are that many. Their blossoms turn the slope they are growing on into a cascade of pink. Take a leisure stroll up the winding path and find out for yourself why local people call their rhododendrons “queens of the mountain flowers”.
Yabi-gawa Kappa Kōen Park, Okinoshima Town
Local legends thrive and azalea flowers bloom in a small park on the banks of the Yabi-gawa River in Okinoshima Town. Stone statues of kappa water demons pay homage to the folk tale of one such pesky creature turning into an ally, while the vivid colours of azalea blossoms please the eye of any who find their way to the park in late April and May. Those who wander along the Yabi-gawa River in early to mid-April are in for an extra treat, as the row of cherry trees planted there is in full bloom around that time.
Kuroki-gosho Imperial Residence Site, Nishinoshima Town
Since a cherry blossom viewing spot opened this list, another one should close it. Near Beppu Port in Nishinoshima Town, there is a site where exiled Emperor Go-Daigo is thought to have once lived. Pay a visit from late March to mid-April and immerse yourself not only in the history but in the beauty of Japan’s signature flowers as well. The lovely view of the bay you will see on your way is a nice bonus.
Author: Izabela Raczynska