After the famous cherry blossom, what are other flowers that visitors to Japan can expect to see ?
One of the most plausible answers would be the hydrangea in the rainy season.
But we have still 1 more month before the rainy season starts (and usually it is not very welcoming for many tourists).
In Osaka, there’s one good choice between the cherry blossom and the hydrangea seasons;
the wisteria, or Fuji (藤）in Japanese.
(Yes, the same pronunciation as the highest montain of Japan.)
Here in Japan, the most famous spieces of wisteria is widely called “Noda Fuji”, the wisteria of Noda”.
If you look at the route map of JR Osaka loop line, you will find the station named “Noda”, two stations to the west of Osaka station. The name of the flower indeed comes from the fact that the area around Noda was once famous for wisteria.
The wisteria in Osaka usually blooms in late April.
So I went out to visit some of the best spots to see wisteria in Osaka.
When I came out of Hanshin Noda staion, the wisteria flowers were in full bloom.
The colours seem to be different tree by tree and the layers of dark and light purple were trully beautiful.
When I gazed up, it was as if the shower of purple flowers was pouring over me.
Walking to the South from Hanshin Noda staion, in about 10 minutes, I arrived at Kasuga shirne (春日神社).
Before the second world war, there were some shelves for wisteria within the premises of the shirine (much bigger than the present day), and the place was one of the few remaining spots of the once famous “Noda” wisteria.
A famous botanist named Tomitaro Makino visited the wisteria shelves here in the early 1900s and studied the spieces. After having found some of the differences of the wisteria in this area from the wild wisteria scattering around Japan, he consolidated the name “Noda Fuji” as the official name to this spieces.
To commemorate this episode, the shrine is often called “the birthplace of Noda Fuji”, although the true origin of “Noda Fuji” spieces is actually not known.
In the Edo period (1603-1886), the wisteria of Noda was so famous that there was even a popular phrase like “to Yoshino for the cherry blossom, and to Noda for the wisteria”.
(“Yoshino” is a place in Nara prefecture which is still famous for the cherry blossom to this day.)
However, just as Osaka city became more and more industrialised after the Meiji period (1886-1912), the wisteria of Noda was gradually disappearing and the bombardment during the Second World War completely wiped out the flower from Noda area.
In the 1970’s, some locals stood up to revive the wisteria and after many years of reserches and failures, we are now able to see beautiful wisteria flowers in the area around Noda again.
The wisteria is indigenous to Japan.
It is in the pea family, and a climber. It sometimes grows more than 30m.
So while you are admired by so many clusters of wisteria flowers, all the flowers may come from one single tree.
Wisteria is designated as the flowers of Fukushima ward (one of the 24 political areas of Osaka city), and address signs in Fukushima ward are coloured in purple with a design of wisteria at the bottom (although this fact is almost unrecognised by most Osaka locals).
When you arrive in Osaka just after the cherry blossom seasons and thinking that you should have come a few weeks ealier, why not visit the areas around Noda to admire the wisteria of Noda.