Rambling for Roses: an early summer celebration

Tokyo’s well maintained public parks/gardens are enjoyable year-round, yet spring and early summer finds them at their most colorful. It is currently the height of the rose season. A few years ago I wrote about a number of great places in Tokyo to enjoy early summer roses, but have recently learned of a new one (or more than one; read on).

Hikarigaoka, a suburban neighborhood in northwestern Nerima-ku, is the last stop on the Oedo subway line. The neighborhood is known for its high rise apartments combined with green spaces, schools and amenities. Particularly popular at this time of year are two rose gardens, practically adjacent to each other and just a 5 or 6 minute walk from Hikarigaoka Station.

Shiki-no-kaori (lit. scents of the four seasons) Rose Garden is a small rectangular space, with an oval walkway allowing visitors to enjoy the intense riot of color of various varieties of roses, each labelled in Japanese and English.

The walkway at the “back” of the garden is covered over with a trellis of climbing roses–several varieties along the way–and one of the garden’s three entrances is also a trellis of climbing roses.

This garden is especially interesting for the number of wild rose varieties, in unusual colors (of course, the traditional red wild rose was also in bloom). The bees especially seem to enjoy the wild roses, with their more accessible pollen.

With so many roses blooming, wonderful fragrances can also be enjoyed, even in these days of mask wearing!

Next to the garden is a “rose garden education center” with a small cafe offering rose flavored delights (the rose-flavored soft cream ice cream cone is, predictably, the most popular item on the menu) and even rose-related items for sale (soaps, honeys, figurines, you name it).

Nearby is the Shikisai Rose Garden, also laid out as a formal rose garden, but more spacious, with a large lawn space in the center and the perimeter marked out by tall cedar trees. The roses in the Shikisai Rose Garden are planted in color groups, with bilingual signboards explaining the various plants.

Another fun feature of this garden is the way other kinds of flowers are interspersed with the roses, providing different textures and aromas during this rose season, but likely also providing ongoing blooms after the roses have finished.

Both gardens, while perhaps not as large as some of Tokyo’s more famous rose gardens, are delightful spaces to feel immersed in these beautiful blooms. Somehow being in the suburbs also gives one a feeling of wide open spaces, perhaps because of the presence of Hikarigaoka Park nearby.

For those who haven’t had enough of roses after these two gardens, and don’t mind a bit of a suburban stroll, the Akatsuka Botanical Garden is about a 30-40 minute walk northeast of Hikarigaoka (cut through Hikarigaoka Park). Here, too, a small but intense rose garden is a blaze of colors this time of year.

The botanical garden is also a nice way to wean oneself from the roses, since it has such a wide variety of other delights, including wildflowers, lotuses blooming in ponds, an herbal garden and even a small vegetable patch.

© 2022 Jigsaw-japan.com and Vicki L. Beyer
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