The first time I ever really appreciated or even seen up close this flowering plant was in Ito City in Shizuoka Prefecture at the famous Rinsenji Temple - there are a few other temples with the same name, so just remember Rinsenji is the one in Ito, and it is the (りんせんじ temple) - with the floribunda variety. Although the actual plant was named after an anglo, the Japanese have been cultivating this flowering plant for centuries before, and was even introduced to North America by a Westerner. How can one man lay claim to a name for a flower anyway? In Japan we call it "Fuji".
As the sun began to wane, and the last vestiges of its great energy shone hues of gold and orange across the evening sky. Images of a time long gone, and faded jubilees and sweet kisses. And sweet nothings. The naked flower for, example. It's already beautiful just as it is. No need to adorn it. Such as the wisteria with its long and slender vines, and soft pedals lain across trellises.
Science tells us that the oldest flower never bloomed and evidence of the first flower ever created is still unknown to us. The debt to beauty is there. The proof must be somewhere. Even science has proven to be utterly clueless.
We are all indebted to beauty. We must see it up close and smell it. This is what I wanted to do on that long train ride through the sun baked backbone of Tochigi Prefecture. From Oyama to Tomita is a vast and rural plain of golden rice fields and ramshackle barns. I loved how the setting sun bathed the whole landscape in brilliant hues of orange and gold and the tiny man- made eddies with glistening ripples of light shimmering off the surfaces. Orbs of sunlight piercing through the train's windows and stinging my semi squinted eyes. I love how the train rocked with its squeaky carriage as it worked its way through this valley. I was on my way to Beauty. Bound for Beauty. Beauty bound. Night Beauty.
Purple is a color most associated with royalty in the Western world. In Japan, it's a symbol of protection. In Asia it's associated with mourning and suffering. For the American Negro woman it is associated with sexual violation and domestic violence as portrayed in the movie Color Purple. Purple is a color that represents so many different dynamics in the human experience. For me, it has always been a symbol of beauty and protection.
Ashikaga Park had so much beauty to offer for me.
The bridge and where it connected me to....
There is a wonderful site here which explains the different varietals and the history of this park.
It took me about 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Tomita station, and then another 20 minute walk to the park. Entrance was about 1400 yen. The park and souvenir shops stay open until 9pm. Remember to try the wisteria soft ice cream! Very delicious. Wear some good walking shoes because there are plenty of excellent foot paths. You have until May 20th to enjoy these wisteria. Daytime offers a completely different view than night. I recommend trying both. You don't need buses and taxis to get here. There are plenty of amenities here, too. If you bring your own food there is plenty of free seating all round the park which all have gorgeous scenic views of wisteria.
As for accommodation. Oyama Station is the nearest major station and has an e-hotel and a few other business accommodations at affordable prices. I did not choose any of them because their facilities were inadequate for me. Meaning the baths close down at around midnight. Other then that, fairly decent accommodation. I opted for Takasaki Station because they had a Dormy Inn which has a bath and sauna that remain open all night - sauna shuts down at 5am. Plus they allow for late check-in, like past midnight if you call them. Takasaki has more convenience stores. It takes two hours to reach from Tomita Station. Long rain ride, but well worth it for me.