Inawashiro Herb Garden


Urban areas can sometimes seem a little monochromatic, with its glass windows and steel structures, so city dwellers like ourselves often seek a little colour in our lives by gravitating towards places with natural light and soothing colour palettes. 

If you’re looking for an expanse of vibrant colours to escape from the suffocating grey city, drop by Inawashiro Herb Garden, which is home to 400 herb and flower species.


Seasonal flowers


The herb garden, owned by Hotel Listel Inawashiro, is situated against the backdrop of Mount Bandai. Spanning 100,000 sqm, the garden is decorated in a different colour scheme every few months depending on which flowers are in season.

Visiting in around September will earn you the chance to view the Zinnia, Cosmos, and Kochia flowering plants. 

Inawashiro Herb Garden - collage of flowers in september
(From left to right) Zinnia, Cosmos, and Kochia.
Image adapted from: @hirokun_2021, @micros333, and @hirokun_2021

The Kochia plant is unique in the sense that its leaf colour changes from green to red as the season transitions from summer to autumn, around early to mid-October. 

Looking at the sea of unfamiliar red colour, uninformed visitors may be tricked into thinking that the garden uprooted all the green Kochia for red ones. But it’s really just the Kochia plant keeping up with the times and donning new clothes suitable for the season.

Inawashiro Herb Garden - Collage of red and green Kochia
Image adapted from: @hirokun_2021

Come winter, the herb garden closes as per schedule. However, in spring and summer, you’ll be able to view more flowers – tulips, moss phlox, chamomile, and poppies in spring; roses, hydrangea, sunflowers, and lavender in summer. 

Inawashiro Herb Garden - collage of seasonal flowers
(Left to right) Tulips, moss phlox, chamomile, poppies, roses, hydrangeas, sunflowers, and lavender.
Image adapted from: Hotel Listel Inawashiro, @inawashiroherbgarden, @inawashiroherbgarden, @inawashiroherbgarden, @inawashiroherbgarden, @moco.moco0329, @yumi0727kmj, and @inawashiroherbgarden


Annual timecapsuledigging tradition


While the flowers are seasonal, statues of the 12 Japanese Zodiac – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar – watch over the garden all year round. Standing at 5 metres tall each, they are a tourist attraction, and mark the dreams of children born in Inawashiro Town. 

Inawashiro Herb Garden - Japanese zodiac statue in the garden
Glenn Greensides with the dragon Japanese zodiac statue that he sculpted.
Image credit: Glenn Greensides

The statues were erected one after another across 12 years from December 1995 to 2006 by Canadian sculptor Glenn Greensides. Shortly after, in 2007, Hotel Listel Inawashiro’s Supporting The Dreams Of Inawashiro’s Children Association (猪苗代の子供たちの夢を応援する会) started a yearly timecapsuleburying event.

Inawashiro Herb Garden - time-capsule-burying event
Inawashiro Town’s elementary school students holding signboards representing their schools and preparing to bury their time capsules.
Image credit: Hotel Listel Inawashiro

Every year in December, several final-year elementary school students from Inawashiro Town gather to bury time capsules before the statue of the following year’s Japanese zodiac. The event serves as a promise for them to reunite 12 years later, after a full zodiac cycle has passed.

11th August 2022 marked the 4th time capsule retrieval ceremony for elementary school students who buried their capsules in 2010. Among them, 50 gathered to dig up their time capsules from nearby the rabbit Japanese zodiac statue. 

Inawashiro Herb Garden - Time-capsule-digging 12 years ago
Image credit: @listelinawashir


Umbrella-filled ceiling


Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the association carried through with its timecapsuledigging tradition. But Inawashiro Herb Garden was affected by the crippling virus, which spurred restrictions on wedding ceremonies, emptying reservations of the garden’s indoor greenhouse as an event venue. 

To recoup its losses, the garden converted its indoor greenhouse into a haven called Umbrella Sky.

Inawashiro Herb Garden - indoor greenhouse as a wedding venue
Image credit: Hotel Listel Inawashiro

Umbrella Sky is like an art installation comprising over 700 Japanese and Western style umbrellas, and it has become a popular photo-taking spot for families and influencers alike.

Inawashiro Herb Garden - Umbrella sky
Image adapted from: @aoto515


Getting to Inawashiro Herb Garden


Cap off your trip by stopping at Inawashiro Herb Garden’s shop, which sells a range of herbal products including bath salts and essential oils.

Inawashiro Herb Garden - shop interior
Image credit: taku 

You can get to the garden by taking a free shuttle bus ride from Inawashiro Station. You’ll have to reserve your bus seat in advance by phoning 0242-66-2233 by 5pm the day before your visit. There are 8 available timings listed on the official website.

Admission: ¥350 (~USD2.42) for adults, ¥250 (~USD1.73) for elementary school students, and free for infants
Address: Tennosaka-2414-16 Kawageta, Inawashiro, Yama District, 969-2663 Fukushima
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm (Last admission at 3.30pm) | Sat & Sun 10am-5pm (Last admission at 4.30pm)
Contact: 0242-66-2233 | Inawashiro Herb Garden website

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Cover image adapted from: @yumi0727kmj and @aoto515

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