Hours of Flowers at the Kurokawa Dahlia Park
A dahlia park?
Every autumn Kawanishi's Kurokawa Dahlia Park is open to the public. Here over one thousand four hundred dahlias bloom into an oasis of color in the surrounding woodland valley.
I'm not much of a flower person but since my time in Japan, I've grown to appreciate all of nature's beauty.
So this year, armed with my camera and a bento I decided to check it out. We decided to go by car because the park includes free parking. Also travel by transit includes quite a bit of walking.
On the way to Kurokawa, I noticed immediately that the urban sprawl of Kawanishi City quickly melts away. It is replaced by rice farms and traditional Japanese houses with their grey tiled roofs and white wooden walls.
I realized that many people of the Kawanishi community are farmers and that farms are what make Kawanishi such a large town by area.
Welcome to the Kurokawa Dahlia Park!
We arrived before noon and parking was already tight. Fortunately we didn't wait long for a spot to open up. From the parking lot we already saw the bright rows of colorful dahlias. Armed with my camera I was ready for action.
The Kurokawa Dahlia Park is about 6,000 square meters (or 1.48 acres). The flowers are neatly arranged in long rows, like a farm. Each row is comprised of a particular dahlia species but sometimes includes several different colors. Then, finally, each end of the row includes the name of the species but, sadly, it is written in Japanese.
One thing that makes the dahlia park unique is that it doesn't sell itself as a tourist attraction. You won't see busloads of foreign tourists taking pictures of themselves next to flowers. In fact, the gaijin tourist in a hurry to cover his bases for the total Japanese experience will probably feel bored pretty fast.
The only thing that resembles a souvenir shop is the admission stand but a glace at its products makes it look more like a gardening shop. It includes a variety of dahlia seed packets, bags of mulch and the like. Sadly, no postcards...
I love seeing Japan's cultural landmarks and festivals but I found the relaxed, quiet pace of the dahlia park as a welcome relief.
A peek into the Kurokawa Dahlia Park
Dahlia park wildlife
One thing I didn't expect was the amount and variety of wildlife. No bears or deer but above is the smallest frog I've ever seen sitting on a dahlia. Most animals were insects. I've never seen so many inhabit such a small area. Bees, beetles and butterflies hopped from one dahlia to the next, feeding from the nectar and pollen.
It looked like the insects preferred flowers with a disc in the center such as the single-flowered dahlia. These allowed easier access to nectar and pollen. Other types, such as ball or pompon dahlias, were out of luck.
I thought that the insects would get bored with just one genus of flower. But much of the area around park is undeveloped, surrounded by forest. Also, a small canal-like river flows through the middle of the park.
All this provides many different flowers for the insects to feed on from early spring to late autumn. The Kurokawa Dahlia Park reminds us that flowers are not decorations. They serve an important role in the ecosystem.
Between the variety of plants and insects, the park is a photographer's dream come true.
How to enjoy Kurokawa Dahlia Park
This small handy book provides words and phrases for every situation while in Japan.
The dahlia park is pretty straightforward. Still here are a few things to remember to have the most fun:
- As mentioned earlier the Dahlia Park isn't a tourist trap. It's a quiet place for folks who appreciate nature and flowers. If you want a large temple or a shrine stay in Osaka or head to Kyoto.
- Visit the Dahlia Park in mid-morning. In the early morning, the shade of the nearby mountain looms over the flowers and by noon parking might get scarce.
- Practice your Japanese. Most visitors are locals so the staff don't speak English. But don't worry, the "Original Point-and Speak Phrasebook" (above) will help you out.
- When visiting you get a free pack dahlia seeds with helpful tips (in Japanese) on how to raise them. The seeds themselves are worth the price of admission. Still, think twice before taking these if you do not plan on planting them or if you live overseas. Dahlias are not considered invasive species but there's no need to take chances.
That's a big flower!
Where is the Kurokawa Dahlia Park?
Visiting the park
From early September to early November, the Kurokawa Dahlia Park is open seven days a week from 9am to 4pm.
Specific dates vary each year. The price of admission is 300 yen and includes a small, free pack of dahlia seeds. Parking is free but limited.
The park is at 389 Kurokawa Ochiai, Kawanishi, Hyogo Japan. It's a bit out of the way without a car but don't let that slow you down.
Take a look at the map on the above for directions by transit.
For more information...
- The official website of the Kurokawa Dahlia Park
Sadly, it's in Japanese
- Dahlia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For information about the dahlia plant, Wikipedia saves the day
- Dahlia Classifications
There are many species of dahlias. They are classified into fourteen groups.
- The Nikon D5300 Digital Camera
Looking for the perfect camera to take those dahlia pictures? Try the D5300 digital camera.
- More places to visit in Japan
Here are more of my adventures in Japan