The highlands of rural Sera in the north of Mihara is a popular area among Japanese couples, families and groups to drive out to to enjoy flower viewing and fruit picking. The area is dotted with large farms which give them plenty of opportunities to do so. One of the more remote and highest in elevation is Lavender-no-oka (Lavender Hill).
I have to admit I am a bit bemused at the idea of driving miles to pay to see flowers being grown on a farm, and begrudged handing over the admission fee for my family of four (¥700 per adult and ¥300 per child). We were there for the annual autumn “Cosmos Festa”, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Cosmos flowers are very beautiful; they are simple blooms and come in all kinds of vibrant colors. The flowers were cultivated in batches with paths to walk between them. It isn’t exactly like walking through a field of wild flowers (which is what I had somewhat unrealistically imagined), but the batches are wide enough that you kind of kid yourself that that is what you are dong. More importantly, you can take photographs of your companions that look like that’s what they are doing. One wonders just how many billions of pixels are created in these fields that never get looked at again, because everyone is taking pictures like crazy.
We had a little picnic next to the flowers on one of several benches set up for the purpose, and wandered over to the other side of the park. Passing the rather tired-looking floral clock near the park entrance we found ourselves in the lavender zone. We were a little late for lavender season, but lavender fans (if such people exist) would love it here, as they have all kinds of varieties, all clearly labeled.
Tucked away in a corner of our kids were delighted to find a bunch of large net hammocks fixed up. On the day we visited the park was bug free and we could have lounged there all day.
Things were now looking up and we were starting to feel more generous about the place.
A quite spacious, rustic cafe serves a variety of set meals – western dishes with salad and herb tea, as well as Japanese options such as noodles, drinks and desserts (customers purchase a ticket at a machine at the entrance to the cafe).
Just outside is a “soft cream” ice cream stand, where you can select fresh fruit to be added to your cone.
There is also a little store selling herbal soaps etc (unfortunately most of the products on sale don’t appear to be locally produced) and a place where you can purchase potted herbs.
After spending about an hour and a half in the park we left still feeling somewhat bemused by the whole thing, but all agreed that we’d enjoyed being there and no longer resented paying the entry fee.
There are many more flowers on display throughout the year, but here are the big-hitters in terms of what pulls in visitors
- Iceland poppies (shiberia hinageshi) April and May
- Anemone April – May
- Lavender Mid-June – late July
- Roses Mid-May – end of June
- Cosmos Early September – end of October
- Blueberry picking August and September (up to 200g included in entrance fee)
Address: 794-9 Bessako, Sera-gun, Sera-cho, Hiroshima-ken, 729-3305
View Kozan Lavender-no-oka in a larger map