Those who know us personally will tell you that we are HUGE planners. Whether it is planning something more simple like our weekend plans with friends, meals for the week, or something more special like a huge bff extravaganza, we find peace in knowing that there is a little bit of structure in our near future. Our planning urges take on a life of their own when we go on vacation since there is just so much to see and do, and we want to take full advantage of the hours spent in a new, previously undiscovered territory. We spent 1-2 months working on our Japan itinerary and had a crazy-detailed Excel spreadsheet that outlined our activities/outfits/food for every single day of the trip. When it comes to traveling, we definitely have different ways we like to spend our time depending on who we go with, but when we go somewhere with each other, we definitely like to to pack our days with lots of food and activities! Despite having our day scheduled nearly to the hour, our first 24-hours in Tokyo was one of those days where nothing seemed to be going as expected, and we definitely had a few curve balls thrown our way.
We spent our first full day in Japan at the Ashikaga Flower Park, a 1.5-2 hour train ride from Tokyo Station. For all of our Pinterest fanatics out there, a photo of the Wisteria Tunnel (Kawachi Fuzen) is probably pinned to one of your travel boards and filed under your travel bucket list. Unfortunately, Kawachi Fuzen is nearly a 6 hour commute from the heart of Tokyo, and since we only had 3 full days in the capital before heading to Kyoto, we decided to check out Ashikaga Flower Park instead. While cherry blossom season is in early April, wisterias are at their peak in the first few weeks of May. So for those who cannot make it to Japan for the beautiful sakura blooms, don't worry because you can certainly get your flower intake with the beautiful wisteria trees around the country! The entry ticket cost 1700 Yen (1400 for the night entry), though it is slightly cheaper during its off-cycle months. After a few surprising and frustrating incidents (lost train tickets, getting off at the wrong stop for our transfer, and arriving much later than anticipated), we finally arrived at the park at 10am to kick off our day of exploring the park. The beginning 3 days of our trip coincided with Japan’s Golden Week, so the park was heavily packed with both locals and tourists, even at 10am on a Saturday morning! Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed walking around the beautifully kept grounds, and spent nearly 5 hours there taking in the fragrant air and enjoying on our wisteria/vanilla flavored ice cream!
Tip: Get to Ashikaga at opening hour (9am) to get a few moments of peace and quiet before the influx of crowds! The space is sizable and includes multiple wisteria tunnels, floral alcoves, bridges, etc. It is definitely a place out of our wildest dreams!