Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park, one of the largest in Japan, is located in Nanbu, a tiny pastoral town surrounded by the rolling mountains of the Daisen Oki National Park. It’s a well-kept natural attraction. Everything is meticulously swept, arranged, trimmed, watered, plucked, weeded, and manicured.
The park spans 50 hectares which change every season. In fall, there are lovely autumn leaves and cosmos flowers. In winter, there are Christmas illuminations and light shows at night. In spring, there are eponymous cherry blossoms and fields of tulips and poppies. In summer, the lilies are the star of the show.
If you visit in summer, the first things you notice about the park are the saturated hues. Warm rain helps to create an explosion of deep color. The smell of lilies intoxicates as soon you enter the grounds. Fierce orange and yellow varieties are arranged in little troughs. Their faces are honest and open; their waxy petals delightful to touch. Photographers buzz like giant bees around each flower, their telescopic lenses, like giant insect eyes trying to capture the fragile beauty of each flower.
The Flower Dome
An open-air corridor leads to a futuristic-looking flower dome. The structure lies on its side like a transparent disco ball. Inside the dome, it’s sweltering. White, pink, and violet orchids dangle near the entrance. Glossy red anthuriums and ginger lilies creep out of the dirt-covered walls. Hibiscus flowers peep from dark green shrubs. There’s even a miniature mango tree, its branches wrapped in long, deeply veined leaves. In the middle of the dome, palm trees stretch up to the glass ceiling, framing a tropical floral arrangement. From this exact spot, voices echo, reverberating against the highest point of the glass canopy. Visitors sit on plastic chairs in the artificial heat, eating crisp Tottori pear ice cream, a local speciality.
As you leave the flower dome, you enter a new garden. The breeze is light and welcoming. The landscape here is distinctly non-Japanese. Instead, forest-green hedges and pine trees have been clipped into angular shapes, fashioned after the famous gardens of Versailles. There is no languid beauty here, just geometric shapes and sharp lines.
From Flower Hill, Mount Daisen also known as Oyama, rises in the background. Heavy bees whirr deep within fields of lavender. Near the lavender, beds of yellow and orange marigolds stretch along the clipped, green fields. Their pungent smell reminds me of flower patches that decorate many yards in the Caribbean.
There is no rustling of leaves here, only soothing music piped through speakers that dot the throughways. A female voice announces the different features of the park in soothing Japanese and English. A train trundles around the park, tinkling its bell. It looks like a giant toy: very shiny, clean, and red. As the train rattles away, the excitement dies down. We seek shade under the walkway that encircles the flower park. The clomp-clomp of wedge heels on the boardwalk’s planks fades in the shimmering heat as the morning wanes into late afternoon.
Photos: © Jesse Ramnanansingh