Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nokonoshima flowers and detour encouragement...

In May, six ladies and I hit the Japanese highway and headed to the Fukuoka area (about 3 hours from MCAS Iwakuni) to go to the beautiful island of Nokonoshima, which is most well known for its flower park. Each season, different flowers are blooming on the rolling hills of the park, many of the fields with their own view of the ocean. You do need to take a ferry to the island, and the ferry costs roughly 5,000 yen per vehicle, plus about 1,200 yen per adult. The trip is about 20 minutes long.

View of the mainland from the ferry.
Once you're on island, head to the right once you have exited the ferry. We headed to the right and got lost in a maze of narrow streets. No a super awesome detour when you're driving an 8-passenger van.

Once we drive up the winding hill to the park, we, well, parked, and made our way to the entrance, where we paid and received English guides to the park This is a nice treat because only about half of the tourist stops I've been to in Japan have English maps or guides. You learn to be grateful to those that do. In case they don't have one available when you go, it is, front and back... click on the photos to enlarge.

We went in late spring, so the flowers in bloom were livingstone daisies, azaleas, marigolds, and red poppies. During the summer months, you can see hydrangeas, coral trees, dahlias, and crape myrtle. Fall is dahlia, coral tree, and cosmos. Not to be outdone, winter brings fall foliage in mid to late November, sasanqua, Japanese narcissus and camellias.

According to this sign, restrooms are available... over there.

There are several places to eat and a handful of handcrafted goods shops. There are cabins, so you can spend the night on the island for 5,000 yen per night per adult, although we did not. There is miniature golf and a large playground for children.

We did eat lunch on the island, opting for the barbecue place. And with the seating outside with the view above, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

I'd also like to take a moment to tell you to build in extra time in to your travel schedule - any travel schedule - to stop for detours. We made an overnight tip of the Nokonoshima trip, stayed at a traditional Japanese hotel about an hour away and headed in to the mountains of Yamaguchi. We made our way back to Iwakuni through some of the Yamaguchi Prefecture back roads and had time to stop to enjoy the things we happened upon, like red bridges and seemingly lonely shrines:

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