In Japan, a country that measures its seasons by its colorful nature, nothing says spring has sprung quite like a park full of bright blooms. From cherry blossoms to hydrangeas and morning glory, there is enough Instagram fodder to fill a feed.
The following six seasonal activities are great for weekend outgoings, Golden Week plans, or just a fun way to spice up a day off.
1. Go Strawberry-picking in Nasu Kogen (Tochigi)
The beautiful area of Nasu Kogen in Utsunomiya, a mere 75 minutes away from Tokyo on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen, makes a perfect springtime trip. The Ichigo no Mori strawberry farm offers a delightful strawberry-picking experience from the end of December until the start of June every year. Not only do they offer delicious strawberries – the tochiotome – to pick, but they also have sky berries on offer. And the best thing? You can eat as many tochiotome strawberries as you wish.
2. Have Lunch Under Okutama Bridge (Tokyo)
Okutama Bridge and the surrounding area can be reached on foot in around five minutes from from Okutama Station on the Ome Line. Once out of the station, head straight ahead, past the bridge itself, onto the path down to the river.
There are a couple of local shops selling firewood and barbecue materials just outside the station so you could potentially arrive empty-handed. Then, head down to the river and find a spot at the riverside. If it is a weekend, there will be other groups there so the area will be easy to find. What’s more, this activity, provided you bring your food to grill and equipment, is free.
On warm days, you can also swim in the shallow waters of Tama River. There are plenty of hiking paths close by, so adventurers can even do some hiking before hunkering down to have a well-earned lunch or dinner.
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3. Head to Showa-no-Mori for a Flowery Picnic and Super Roller Slide (Chiba)
Showa-no-Mori, Chiba’s largest park, is a great location to bring the whole family and even the dog along to have a gigantic picnic. It’s famous for its cherry blossom yet even after sakura season, the park is a nice green space that is perfect for getting away from the city. There are rental bikes available so you can get a little exercise too. There are also two jumbo slides running through the trees which are over 100 meters long. In spring, sliders can speed down under the flowery canopy.
4. Ride the Mount Hodosan Ropeway (Saitama)
The area of Nagatoro in Saitama is the perfect destination to while away a spring day. Head to Sanroku Station as a starting point to ride the cable car up Mount Hodosan. Punters riding the cable car (around five minutes one-way) during springtime can gaze at a blanket of azaleas down below. Mount Hodosan is a great place to get some exercise in. Why not hike to the top and then get the cable car down?
5. Experience Sea, Art and Greenery at the Enoura Observatory (Odawara)
Loosely categorized as an indoor and outdoor art museum, the Enoura Observatory in Odawara, designed by architect Hiroshi Sugimoto, is a place where art harmonizes with nature. Entering the space, visitors are immediately drawn to the outdoor gallery. Relics from Sugimoto’s historical collection are displayed around the largely untouched surroundings.
The Odawara Foundation operates a free shuttle bus directly from the Nebukawa Station. As with the entry tickets, it is pre-bookable.
6. Stroll Amongst Roses at AKAO Herb and Rose Garden (Atami)
Located a 45-minute train ride away from central Tokyo, the AKAO Herb and Rose Garden is renowned for its Rose Festival. It takes place from mid-May to mid-June and attracts visitors from all over Japan. Local honey and rose coffee are also on offer at the garden shop – the perfect place to have a snack while admiring the blooms all around. There are events throughout spring featuring changing flower displays.