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The Hokuriku region is in the middle of the Japanese archipelago. This region is also close to Edo and Kyoto, the central cities of before modern Japan. Echizen city played an important function in logistics which means that the town was also prosperous. Thus, it became a place where the unique culture had developed as well.
In this article, I will introduce a Japanese traditional flower expo – “Takefu Kiku Festival.” It reflects the Japanese traditional culture of the Hokuriku region and overall looks stunning. Let’s check it out!
Have you seen chrysanthemum flowers in your country? In Japan, chrysanthemums are very important flowers, as much as cherry blossoms. The flower is said to bring longevity, and commonly people used to put its petals in sake. On the other hand, the noblemen often wrote about the flowers in poems. It is even used as an emblem of the royal family of Japan.
Takefu Kiku Ningyo Festival is a chrysanthemum exhibition held every autumn. Kiku means a chrysanthemum, and Ningyo means a doll in Japanese.
At this festival, there are about 20,000 chrysanthemums in the park. You can see dolls decorated with many of these flowers. Each doll wears a traditional Japanese costume so you can feel the Japanese style the event.
Takefu area is famous for chrysanthemum flowers. From the Edo period, people have held chrysanthemum exhibitions actively in the temple grounds.
This festival has a unique history. In 1949, the vice chairman of Takefu attended a national council meeting. At the table of the meeting, the chairman of Hirakata City, Osaka, seated next to him. They enjoyed talking about chrysanthemums, and from the conversation, he got an idea to hold a chrysanthemum exhibition. At that time, Takefu city was seeking for ways to recover after World War II. Besides, the people there liked entertainments a lot. Then, in 1952, the festival took place for the first time, and it lasts for about 70 years now.
Today, Takefu Kiku Ningyo Festival is known as one of the most popular chrysanthemum exhibitions in Japan.
Around the park, you will see various types of flower arrangements.
The most popular and symbolic ones are the dolls in traditional style costumes. The woman standing in the picture is Murasaki Shikibu, a well-known court lady in 8th and 9th centuries. Her literature piece “The tale of Genji” and her private diary have been read all over the world. Beside her are followers and a big palanquin to carry her. Before modern times, noble people moved this way.
Each doll and the scenery is made faithfully according to historical facts so you will feel like having a trip back in time. There are not only people but also animals decorated with chrysanthemums. In the zoo area, you can meet a large teddy bear. This lovely mascot is one of the biggest flower arrangements in Japan. Of course, these flowers are alive so you can see the change of seasons through it.
On the stage, OSK Japan Revue plays a grand review show every day.
As I said before, people in Takefu really love entertainments. At the time when this festival began, a drama using chrysanthemum figures caught the attention of visitors.
From 1967, the revues from various places in Japan began to perform shows on stage one after another. In 1980, however, OSK Japan Revue performed their first stage show and fascinated the audience by both of the Japanese and Western dancing. Since that, OSK comes to Takefu every year and shows off the fantastic dance.
This picture is just for sample and real people dance in the program. If you buy a ticket for 2000 Yen, you can watch the play with your own eyes in the theater!
This event is very family friendly.
There is a playground area named “Papipupepo Square” especially for infants and children. The playing equipment is substantial: athletic playground equipment, a vehicle like shinkansen, ball pool, merry go round, and even a big Ferris wheel! Some of them are decorated with chrysanthemum flowers so your children can play in a floral environment as well.
The playground area is charged. Each of the equipment requires a 200-400 Yen fee.
You can book the ticket for 1,000 Yen that allows using 11 types of equipment, and 1-day ticket is 2,000 Yen. If your children want to play a lot, it would be much cheaper.
Besides, you can rent a wheelchair for free, and baby car and silver car are available for 300 Yen. Please visit the festival with your family!
Inside the Takefu Chuo Park, there is a large food court (400 seats), so you can enjoy your lunch time and relax.
Hokuriku region is famous for its delicious food.
Since it faces the Japanese sea, you can enjoy fresh seafood dishes such as sushi and crabs. Moreover, this area is a big producer of rice. The cold weather raises the quality of grains.
Please try Echizen soba, the local specialty in this area. It is a cold buckwheat noodle soup. The topping is generally grated radish, chopped green onions, and bonito flakes. It is quite simple but tasty enough to be famous all over Japan.
Dates: Early October to early November every year (September 28th to November 4th in 2018)
Time: 9:00 ~ 17:00
Place: Takefu Chuo Park
Address: 2-7, Takase, Echizen city, Fukui Prefecture
Homepage (Japanese only): http://xn--08j1a5d044nforx33c.com/
Fees: admission is free, but partially charged at the venue
By train: Get off at “Takefu” Station
→walk for 20 minutes in the town
or take a free shuttle bus and get off at “Kiku Ningyo-mae”
※Express train (ex. Shirasagi, Thunder Bird) is convenient to get to Takefu Station.
By car: 15 minutes from “Takefu” IC on Hokuriku Expressway
※There are three parking around the park, but the traffic jams might be heavy.
Chrysanthemums have been loved by Japanese people for over 1,000 years. At the same time, the passion of Takefu residents is exceptional.
Since this festival was started thanks to the vice chairman of Takefu, it is supported by many people from this area.
Hokuriku region is still not famous enough among foreigners, but I think that it is the region which holds the essence of Japanese culture. Please visit Fukui and discover grateful places and culture with your own eyes! The local guides are ready to help you.
If you need any help and would like a local guide to tell you more about this area, please check the banner below! Walk around there with us and find out all the edges of Japanese culture!
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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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