There’s no end of things to do in Japan’s capital region. While many of the recommendations on our recent list of 10 favorite places to spend a day in Tokyo are fairly well known, today we’d like to share a hidden gem that’s easily accessible from the center of the city but feels like you’ve been transported to another time and place completely–the Former Furukawa Gardens (旧古河庭園).
Nestled in Tokyo’s Kita Ward just north of the JR Yamanote Line, this metropolitan park once served as the residence of Toranosuke Furukawa (1887-1940), a past head of the Furukawa Group, which remains one of Japan’s largest industrial groups to this day. The residence includes a Western-style mansion, Western-style gardens, and Japanese-style gardens which were all fully completed in 1919.
These days, anyone can enjoy the premises for a very small fee, including the approximately 200 rose bushes that bloom in a swirl of vibrant color at this time of the year. In fact, the park has dubbed April 28 through June 30 to be the Spring Rose Festival, during which time the flowers are at their peak and special events are held.
▼ On May 9, approximately 92 of the 100 cultivars of roses were in full bloom.
One of the highlights is the Gardens’ annual rose popularity contest, with 2023 marking the 1oth edition. Some past favorites include the Sterling Silver, New Ave Maria, Midas Touch, and Kanpai cultivars. Last year’s contest winner, the Kinda Blue, is also just about to be in full bloom right now. Any visitor to the park can cast their vote for this year’s most lovely specimen.
Between May 11-13, the Gardens opened one hour earlier than usual to encourage visitors to stop by when the fragrance of roses is said to be strongest in the morning. Coming up on May 27, a saxophone quartet is scheduled to perform live music at the Spring Rose Concert unless the event is canceled by rain. The group will perform twice, once at 12 p.m. and again at 3 p.m., for 30 minutes each time. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the ambiance of the mansion and gardens to the tune of live music.
No festival would be complete without some pop-up stands, and this one doesn’t disappoint. A temporary gift stand (closed during stormy weather) offers plenty of rose-themed goods as seen in the photos below.
You can even buy flower seedlings at the stand on select days.
Of particular interest is this rose-dyed scarf which would be an elegant addition to any garden stroll.
Similarly, rose-flavored gelato is also being sold for a limited time through May 31–a perfect treat for the increasingly hot weather.
The park also houses a permanent gift shop which sells unique and singular goods such as this hand towel with illustrations of 14 Former Furukawa Gardens highlights.
Here are an assortment of more things such as snacks, tea, and cosmetics sold in the permanent shop.
The price of admission for the Former Furukawa Gardens is only 150 yen for adult entry (70 yen for seniors ages 65 and up), so it’s a great idea for a day trip without breaking the bank. Children in elementary school as well as junior high school students who reside in or go to school in Tokyo can also enter for free. Please note that entry to the mansion requires a separate entrance fee.
Japan certainly does flower parks well in general, with Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture being a prime example for its ethereal wisteria. It’s certainly a good reminder that even in the midst of busy city life, there are some days when you just need to stop and smell all of the flowers.
Former Furukawa Gardens / 旧古河庭園
Address: Kita-ku, Nishigahara 1-27-39
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (last entry at 4:30 p.m.)
Source, images: @Press
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Don't get me wrong, I love flowers. They are nature's gift to humankind.
However, after this past few months of heavy rains, it seems like every thing possible is blooming. I have never in my life seen the local scents be so heavy in the air. For someone with allergies and asthma, it is not ideal, even if it is amazingly beautiful. For the very first time, I am looking forward to the end of spring blossom season.