September 25, 2007

Higanbana viewing in Saitama

Late September in Japan sees the Autumnal Equinox holiday, and this time is also the best season to see higanbana, also known as red spider lilies or equinox lilies. I'm no expert on flowers and can't confess to having noticed this type before, but the posters on the Seibu trains convinced me to go out to Saitama to have a look. About an hour from Ikebukuro station you arrive at a small station called Koma, which was heaving with people. In front of the station there were plenty of food stalls set up selling the usual fare, yaki soba (stir fried noodles), onigiri (rice balls), yaki tori (grilled chicken), beer, tea and so on.

From the station it was roughly a 15 to 20 minute walk to reach the wooded area next to a river where you paid 200 yen to view the higanbana.
It was a warm but cloudy day and the view was pretty spectacular, though rather than strolling through the woods, it was more of a slow shuffle as you waited for the queue to advance.
Much like the hanami season in spring, there was an incredible array of photographic equipment on display as everyone tried to capture the defining shot.

Also, in a field adjacent to the forest, you could enjoy the view of cosmos, or for a small fee pick your own bunch to take home.

A nice relaxing day ahead of an evening of jazz.

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