The red rose cries, ‘She is near, she is near;’
And the white rose weeps, ‘She is late;’
The larkspur listens, ‘I hear; I hear;’
And the lily whispers, ‘I wait.’
Japan has always been a dreamland for nature lovers whose culture is strongly enhanced by the four seasons. For every season, tourists find an alluring purpose to experience the natural landscapes of the country. In winter, visitors delight over the giant ice sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival or the ski slopes of the Japan Alps; in spring, they tirelessly flicker their cameras shooting hundreds of cherry blossom views, or marvel at the picturesque shiba-zakura or pink moss phlox meadows in Fuji or Chichibu in Saitama. In summer, both tourists and Japanese swarm temples and shrines to glimpse festivals—the lantern festival at Yasukuni Shrine and the Tanabata streamers festival at Asagaya in Tokyo, the Gion Festival parade in Kyoto, or bon odori traditional dances in every prefecture. Japanese autumn paints the landscapes with the brightest hues of red and yellow maple leaves in Nikko, Kyoto, Mt. Nasu in Fukushima, the Fuji Five Lakes in Hakone, and other attractive destinations.
In one park hidden in the outskirts of Koma city in Saitama (about one and a half-hour train ride from Tokyo), each year from late September to around the first to the second week of October five million red spider lilies are known to grow like scattered red butterflies nestling on a 22-hectare meadow. Kinchakuda Manjushage Park, whose name is derived from an "old-style coin purse", was said to be home to refugees from an ancient kingdom of the present North Korea. “Koma” was given to the name of this kingdom back in the early 700 A.D. The river peninsula that surrounds the vast land is called Kinchakuda, which literally means a coin purse field.
Just a mere 1 hour and 20 minute travel time (by train) from Ikebukuro station to Koma Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, Kinchakuda Manjushage Park is truly a ravishing break away from the noise and bustle of city life. The 15-minute walk from Koma station to the park passes through small, rural villages selling blueberries, vegetables and other crops, with cosy cafés along the way.
Once you reach the park, the sight is utterly overwhelming, like a fully red-lit stage under the clear sky. Kinchakuda Manjushage Park is heavily forested, thus, the temperature cools down, and creates an interesting play of light and shadow underneath the trees, reflecting likewise varied brightness levels of the manjushage red spider lilies. Strolling through the park may take about 30-40 minutes, stopping by the running river below, which exudes an immensely comfortable sensation.
The blossoming season of the red spider lilies also coincides with the equinoctial week, which by Japanese tradition, reminisces on the deceased. Thus, some Japanese co-relate the bloom period with flowers offered to heaven. For many, red spider lilies symbolize passion and sadness at the same time, as well as reincarnation.
During the festival period, there are food stalls around the area selling local delicacies from Saitama or Koma city. If you have more time to spare during the day, you may enjoy the open fields of pink, yellow and white cosmos flowers that glitter just outside the spider lilies area. Koma city is also surrounded by the Mt. Hiwada mountains, about an hour hike away. You can find the Kotohira Shrine close to the summit and breath deeply gazing over the spectacular view of the Tokyo skyline.