Apr 30, 2014

The view you must NOT miss in Kyushu 1: a magnificent wisteria tunnel of Kawachi Fujien

Hi everyone!

I just came back from a short trip of Kyushu Island, the southernmost (westernmost?) of the four main islands of Japanese archipelago.

A coupe of days before the trip, I happened to see a breathtakingly beautiful photo in a book of a wisteria tunnel, entitled "One of the superb views you must see in Japan."

I instantly decided to visit there, as I happened to have a plan to stay one night in Fukuoka City, which is not too far from the private wisteria garden, named Kawachi Fuji-en (河内藤園).

Located in the midst of mountains of Kitakyushu City, the wisteria garden is not openly advertized, because the garden's owner is worried that too many visitors may cause the damage of the trees, even if they don't do any harm intentionally.

Even so,  this hidden touristic spot is becoming known in recent years by word of mouth, and I heard that it is very busy when the wisterias are at their best.

Well, do you want to know how I liked it?

Unfortunately, the day I visited was a bit too early and only about 30 percent of flowers were in bloom.

The entrance fee differs from 300-1,000 yen depending on flowering situation of wisterias, and they charged us only 600 yen.

But look! Not too bad, is it?

In the 6,100 sq.-meter garden 22 kinds of wisterias have been planted. There are two wisteria tunnels, 80 meters and 220 meters respectively. 


This is the inside of the wisteria tunnel. Since wisteria clusters start flowering from the top, two thirds from the bottom were still in bud, but their best time will come very soon -- maybe in a couple of days if the weather is nice. 

If you are luckily planning to travel in the north part of Kyushu island in May, you'll see the wisterias in profusion like the photo below.


If you want to have a picnic under the flowers, bring your own food into the garden. Don't expect to buy something on the spot. There are no shops, no cafés and no vending machines near the garden.

There are some rules you have to follow
1) Don't touch the trees or stand on the roots.
2) Don't leave your garbage.
3) Don't bring your pets into the garden.
4) Don't take photos using tripods on the paths including tunnels, but you can use them at the grand trellis.

Address: 2-2-48 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture
tel: 093-652-0334
Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

If you have a car with GPS, you will have no problem, but it is hard to get there by public transport. If you don't want to rent a car, take a taxi from JR Yahata Station, and ask the driver to come back later, since it is almost impossible to hail a taxi near the garden.

Here are useful expressions

1) 河内藤園までお願いします。  Kawachi Fuji-en made onegaishimasu  (To Kawachi Fujien please)

2) X時ごろまた来てもらえますか。 ~ji goro mata kite morae masuka?  (Would you please come back around X o'clock?)

From here I'll write in Japanese.


先日 (senjitsu)  the other day
九州 (Kyushu)
旅行 (ryoko)  travel


北九州 (Kitakyushu)
市 (shi)  City
河内藤園 (Kawachi Fujien)  Kawachi Wisteria Garden


偶然 (guzen)  happen to (know)
決める (kimeru) to decide
残念(zannen)なことに unfortunately
見ごろ (migoro)  best time

数日後 (sujitsu go)  in a few days
満開 (mankai)  be in full bloom
計画(keikaku)する  to plan
検討(kento) する to consider


藤園 (fujien)  wisteria garden
宣伝 (senden) する to advertise
絶景 (zekkei)  a superb view
訪れる (otozureru)  to visit
大勢 (ozei) many


ただ but
難しい (muzukashii)  difficult
カーナビ GPS
~付き (tsuki) equipped with
借りる (kariru) to rent
乗る (noru)  to take

Apr 24, 2014

Gotemba Premium Outlets: huge mall you can enjoy shopping and Mt. Fuji!

Hi everyone!

As everybody knows, Mt. Fuji is a symbol of Japan. I was very happy when this perfect shaped volcano was officially registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site last year.

Mt. Fuji, 3,776 meters high, is the highest mountain in Japan, and can be seen from many parts of Tokyo when the sky is clear. If you have a chance, however, try to see it from somewhere closer and you'll understand why this mountain has been so special to Japanese since ancient times.  

Do you want to stand on the summit of Mt. Fuji? Of course it is possible. Actually more than 200,000 hikers (in recent years about 300,000) including not a few foreign tourists and not-very-young people try to climb every year, and many of them succeed to reach the top.

But remember, you need to have stamina and be properly clothed and equipped. You can go up to the fifth station of the mountain by car, but from there you have to climb on foot. There are neither cable cars nor rope ways that take you to the top.

Moreover, Mt. Fuji is basically open to the general public only in July and August, which means most mountain huts are closed for the rest of the year. Even in mid-summer the temperature near the summit often goes down to 0℃.

Some experienced mountaineers climb in the off-season when the mountain is covered with snow, but it is very dangerous for amateurs to do the same thing. Even if you have problems in the mountain, no one will help you.

So, for the time being, why don't you enjoy shopping at Gotemba Premium Outlets mall, situated on the foot of the Mt. Fuji? I took these two photo below in late March from the mall. Aren't they nice?

On the vast site area (403,100 sq.meters) of this shopping mall, there are 210 stores where you can buy all the items at a 25~60 percent discount all year around. The stores include many high brands such as Armani, Chloe, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Issey Miyake, Paul Smith, Ferragamo and Valentino. You can find a shop list on their English site here.

You may think it is a bit too far to get there from Tokyo, but it takes only 70-80 minutes by car. If you don't have a car, you only have to take a direct bus from major stations (Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Tama Center,  Chofu, Yokohama, etc) . The fee is different according to the bus company but usually around 3,000 for a round trip per adult passenger, and a reservation is required. For further info. about how to get there, click here.

Gotemba Premium Outlets
Address: 1312 Fukasawa, Gotemba-Shi, Shizuoka
Hours:  March-November,10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
          December-February,10 a.m.-7 p.m.
          Closed on 3rd Thursday in February.



富士山 (ふじさん) Mt. Fuji


世界自然遺産(せかいしぜんいさん) World national heritage
登録 (とうろく)する  to register


以前 (いぜん)  before
年間 (ねんかん) annually
登る (のぼる) to climb
増える (ふえる) to increase


お年寄り (おとしより) old people
簡単 (かんたん) easy
登山 (とざん) mountain climbing
体力 (たいりょく) stamina
装備 (そうび) equipment
必要 (ひつよう) necessary


一般の (いっぱんの) ordinary
登山者 (とざんしゃ) mountaineers


雪 (ゆき) snow
山小屋 (やまごや) mountain huts
閉まる (しまる) to close
危険 (きけん) dangerous


御殿場 (ごてんば) Gotemba
ふもと foot 
眺める (ながめる) take  a look


高級 (こうきゅう) ブランド high brand
含めて (ふくめて) including


詳しくは (くわしくは) for further information
ウェブ website
調べる (しらべる) check

Apr 1, 2014

Sakura is in full bloom!

Hi everyone!

Last time I wrote sakura (cherry blossoms) had just started blooming, It is now in full bloom!

Look! This is the photo I took from my balcony. It is fortunate that some sakura trees have been planted right in front of my place.

In this season sakura trees lining the streets make flower tunnels.  The photo below was taken in my neighborhood. Beautiful, isn't it?


We cannot enjoy this scenery long, though. Weather forecast says it will rain Friday in Tokyo region and make flowers fall. After that the trees will be covered with green young leaves. 

If you are planning to have a cherry-viewing party, be quick! You don't have to go very far. Luckily, sakura is everywhere in Japan.



前回 (ぜんかい) last time
桜 (さくら) cherry blossoms
開花 (かいか) to bloom
満開 (まんかい) be in full bloom


時期 (じき) time
近所 (きんじょ) neighborhood
撮る (とる) to take pictures
載せる (のせる) to put up


枚 (まい) counter for something thin, like pictures


天気予報 (てんきよほう) Weather forecast


散る (ちる) to fall
お花見 (おはなみ) flower-viewing party
企画 (きかく) plan
急ぐ (いそぐ) to hurry
幸運(こううん) lucky