Thursday, April 24, 2014

My two lips can't say enough about the tulips...

I had heard about the "tulip farm near Hiroshima" a few times this spring, but I finally found some solid information about it and its whereabouts on the Iwakuni Explorer website. Heeding the authors' advice/storytelling, I wanted to avoid the peak of the tulip bloom at the Sera Kogen tulip farm in Hiroshima prefecture... not because I did not want to see the whole place abloom, but because I wanted to avoid the thousands of vacationing Japanese that would be there all at the same time. The tulips bloom in full during Japan's Golden Week, a 7-day time period full of Japanese national holidays between April 29 and May 5, when many schools and businesses are closed, so families travel.

Looking at my hectic baseball season schedule and the weather, it looked like April 22, also known as Earth Day and my Dad's birthday, would be the best time to go for me. So, figuring it would be more fun to go with others than by myself, I invited some ladies along for the ride: four MCAS Iwakuni spouses and my Japanese friend, Chie. Here we are, looking good at the farm:

Thank you for these three photos, Chie!
It took us about two hours to get there, and about 5,000 yen round trip on the Sanyo (you get off at the Hiroshima Airport exit and drive for another hour or so - it took us about two hours to get there, and that was with getting lost twice... it was nice having someone who spoke Japanese with us... Chie had to ask for directions once. Just keep in mind that when Japanese signs say to turn, they don;t mean right away usually. Wait a few meters). We did stop at the rest stop closest to the airport exit one the way there and on the way back... some of us have had children and our bladders aren't what they once were. And there were no men to grumble about having to stop... so we did. And since we stopped, we got some coffee/tea/pastries so we could stop to use the bathroom later and repeat the process. Yay for road trips!

As for the farm, the website reported that the tulips were 30-40 percent bloomed. I'd say closer to 30 than 40, but it was still beautiful, with hardly anyone around, so we were able to capture some great photos with very few people milling around in the background. And the section that has dozens of different and usually varieties was almost completely bloomed.

Also, bring some extra yen with you. For 100 yen each (about $1) you can dig up tulip bulbs of your choice in a particular field (please don't start digging just anywhere if you go!). The field is located behind the first field on the left as you enter the park. You will see this:

and you will be handed a plastic bag, wrapped around a digging stick:

And then you can select the bulbs you want. There are directions for care in Japanese, but you can find the same info by Googling "tulip care." Basically, if you let the leaves die on their own, you can save the bulbs for next year. Plant them in October or November.

And before I show you my favorite tulip photos, here is a performer who was there... at this time he was balancing on a board, which was balancing on a cylinder, which was balancing on a bench and throwing some knives. You can see from the photo below that I kept my distance.

So, here you go, tulip lovers... some eye candy for you. If the variety was labeled in the fields, then I included the name with the photo:


Leen Van der Mark
Monte Orange
Banja Luka 


Candy Prince
The red ones are Largo
Marie Jo 
Super Parrot 
Sunshine Club

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