Famed for its spectacular showcase of flowering wisteria, the Kawachi Fujien gardens in Kitakyushu, Japan is a private garden only open during wisteria season and in autumn.
Japan is famous for its cherry blossom trees, however wisteria is also found all over the country and is equally mesmerising. The hanging flower is an important part of Japanese culture, appearing in popular folk paintings (Otsu-e) and traditional dances. Wisteria can live for decades – there’s a plant in Japan that is 1 200 years old – and are seen as symbols of longevity and endurance. The whimsical flowers also have strong ties to romance; in Japanese theatre (Kabuki), the Wisteria Maiden tells a story of love and shows the country’s appreciation for the beautiful plant.
Established in 1977, the Kawachi Fujien gardens feature around 150 trees, some more than 100 years old, made up of 22 types of wisteria in a staggering variety of colours. The main attractions in the garden are two tunnels – one 80m and the other 220m long – formed out of trellises of wisteria that hang down on long vines and sway magically in the breeze. The garden also has wisteria domes and trellises under which visitors can picnic or simply enjoy being surrounded by the delicate blooms.
If you’re looking to experience this pastel-coloured fairy tale for yourself, the best time to go is in April. While most wisteria is at its best at the beginning of May, Kitakyushu’s warmer southern climate extends the viewing time slightly.
Find out more about the Kawachi Fujien gardens here.