Shimane and Tottori are two of the least populated prefectures in Japan, but don’t let this fool you into believing there is nothing to see here. In addition to boasting of cultural treasures, natural sightseeing destinations such as sand dunes, sacred mountains, beaches and flower parks abound.
The flower-viewing spots of these prefectures draw visitors throughout the year because, in addition to growing iconic seasonal flowers such as cherry blossoms, many places raise flowers year-round, ensuring there is always something to see.
Here are five of the top flower viewing spots that Shimane and Tottori have to offer.
Located about 90 meters above the surrounding environment, the Yonago Castle Ruins offer panoramic views of Yonago city, Mount Daisen and Lake Nakaumi. From late March through early April, cherry trees planted throughout the ruins bloom against this bird’s eye view and the stone walls that mark where Yonago Castle once stood.
The highest point of the ruins offers the most unobstructed view and features benches and lawns where one can sit and enjoy the blossoms. A hike up a wooded trail, which can take as little as 15 minutes, is all it takes to reach this spot.
After exploring the ruins, visitors can extend their cherry blossom experience by stopping at nearby Minatoyama Park. In addition to numerous cherry trees, this park features play structures, a monkey enclosure and waterfront paths along Lake Nakaumi.
Visitors to this 50-hectare botanical park can spend a day exploring themed gardens, wooded trails and greenhouses.
Among these, a section of the park called Flower Hill is one of the most popular. From hills covered in flower beds, one can see a view of Mount Daisen. If you angle your camera just right, you can capture an image of the mountain against a foreground of blooming flowers.
Other sections of Hanakairo highlight the unique beauty of the four seasons. Spring reveals gardens of cherry blossoms and tulips, summer gives life to lilies and sunflowers while autumn brings cosmos and autumn leaves. During winter, the park stays open after dark and displays illuminations and fireworks.
No matter the season, there is always something to see at Hanakairo.
Unnan is a small town in eastern Shimane Prefecture famous for its long cherry blossom season. At least four varieties of cherry trees grow here, blooming at different times throughout the spring.
Somei Yoshino cherry trees, the most famous variety in Japan, usually bloom here from late March through early April. During this time, hundreds of trees bloom in the Kisuki neighborhood, creating a two-kilometer tunnel of pink blossoms. Visitors and locals enjoy the blooms by having picnics under the trees or walking the length of the tunnel during the day or at night when lanterns illuminate the flowers.
Later, from about mid to late April, late-blooming varieties of cherry blossoms appear in Mitoya Riverside Park. The most famous is the gyoiko (green and white cherry blossoms). This variety of blossoms is rare, and just like earlier in the spring, having picnics under the trees is the most popular way to enjoy gyoiko.
Yushien is a Japanese garden located on Daikonshima Island, one of Japan’s largest producers of peonies. Yushien annually hosts the Peony Festival from late April through early May to celebrate this local flower. During this time, the garden’s central pond is filled with red, pink, white or yellow peonies, creating a sight that draws many visitors.
Outside this festival, you can see Daikonshima peonies in Yushien’s greenhouse, growing year-round. Peonies can also be seen blooming outdoors in the winter, housed under straw mats that protect them from snow.
Besides flowers, Yushien offers on-site restaurants, winter illumination events and souvenir shops that sell ginseng products–another specialty of local farms.
From about mid-December through February, over two million Japanese narcissus daffodils appear in this park in western Shimane Prefecture. When the flowers bloom, they transform the landscape into a sea of white and yellow petals, which visitors can traverse via walking trails.
Along with daffodils, this park has breathtaking views of the Kamate Coast. Cliffs, sea caves and rock formations such as Karaoto no Jagan (Karaoto Snakeline Rock) create a striking view against the blue ocean on sunny days. With a clear view of the sea, sunsets over the Sea of Japan are also visible from here.
Shimane and Tottori offer beautiful destinations and smaller crowds. These prefectures can be accessed via the Yakumo Express, the Sunrise Izumo sleeper train or a short domestic flight from major airports. So when you want to experience the beauty of Japan’s flowers, why not explore these two hidden gems?
Have you been to any of these places? Let us know in the comments!