Otaru is one of my favourite spots for a day tour from Sapporo in all seasons. This old town of Hokkaido is known for its glass works, sushi, ski resorts, and a romantic canal giving it a feel of Venice. However, all this while I never knew about a secret that Otaru holds. It has the largest lily garden in Hokkaido, and probably one of the biggest in the country. The Onze Harukyama Yurien (lily garden) opens only for one short month in summer. In 2013, to attract more business, Snow cruise Onze ski resort in Otaru started this garden. Easy accessibility along with a view of stunning flowers with the Ishikari bay, makes the Onze Harukayama Lily garden, a great site for a quick visit.
The Onze Harukayama Yurien (lily garden) is spread over twenty five acres of land. It has over fifty species of Oriental and Asiatic lilies, brought mainly from the Netherlands. Located on the foothill of Harukayama, about 2 million flowers cover the mountain like a colourful blanket. Lilies start blooming from early July and the best of the show comes in the beginning of August. Locals say, that a good way to experience the Yurien is by taking a forty minute walk to the summit. To me, that doesn’t sounds like a good idea especially in the July and August summer. Why walk when there are cable cars that take less than 10 minutes to reach the peak. Once you are at the mountaintop, you will be fascinated with a view of the deep blue ocean, splashy flowers and a clear blue sky. The summit is a great location for taking pictures, so grab your camera and go crazy. Picture credits to all the images here goes to the Onze Harukayama lily garden site. After all that excitement, you can relax yourself in the resting place on the the summit.
Going to the bottom of the hill is easy, just fold your knees and roll down the flower bed. Just kidding, walking down is much easier than climbing up and takes less than 30 minutes. If you don’t want to walk, then hop on to the lift again. While going down, you can stop by at different zones of flower fields, such as the mix zone, mosaic zone, and border zone. You can also sit and ponder upon the meaning of life on the chairs that are placed in the middle of the lily fields.
What more can you do?
You can enjoy a horse ride. Children can have fun at the kid’s playground. If you are bringing your beloved pooches, then they also have a dog run set-up. In August, the resort holds a night view of the lilies by illuminating the garden. The dates for the night view changes every year so check the website before your visit. You can also shop for souvenirs and buy lily bulbs.
What to eat?
The restaurant at the garden, serves classic Japanese food such as Udon and Curry. To maximise your lily experience, try lily specialty products such as lily tempura sets, lily soft cream and dorayaki, which seems to be Doraemon’s favourite food too. On weekends, Hokkaido gourmet food festival is held where you can eat local Hokkaido cuisines.
How to reach Onze Harukayama lily garden?
Onze Harukayama Yurien is very easy to access. Catch the JR Hakodate line train from Sapporo to Otaru and get off at JR Zenibako Station (30 minutes ride). A free and frequent shuttle bus runs in the open season from JR Zenibako station to the garden. For more information on bus go here
Here is more information on how to access using a bus or by car.
Business hours: 9: 00 ~ 17: 00, 2017’s opening date is July 8th.
Night view hours: 9:00 – 22:00 (Check the website before you go) 2017’s night view is on August 5th.
Entry fees -Adults: 400 yen, children – free, People with disabilities: 200 yen
Note: If you have lily in your name or you visit the garden on your birthday, it’s a free entry. Of course, you will need an ID to prove it.
Lift fees: One way: Adult 500 Yen, children – 300 Yen
Round trip lift fees: Adult 800 Yen, children 400 Yen
For people with disabilities and limited mobility, they have flower cars to take you around the garden. Round trip fee – 500 Yen
1. Ladies, please keep your heels at home and wear comfortable shoes.
2. Do carry light outerwear, as the weather in Hokkaido changes frequently.
Visiting Hokkaido in spring and summer is always a delight. The entire island becomes a picturesque artwork with a myriad of colours. If you love flowers, then do make your way to some of the other beautiful gardens in Hokkaido, such as the Higashimotoko Shibazakura park or to the lavender valley of Hokkaido in Furano.
Do let me know your questions or comments by writing below As always, thank you for reading