There's never been a better time to visit Japan. Plan your trip today!

Japan’s Less-Famous “Fuji”

When foreigners hear the word “Fuji,” they naturally think about the mountain. This is true even in situations like Kawachi Fuji-en, the garden on Kyushu island I’m going to describe over the next few paragraphs, which is around 1,000 km from Mt. Fuji.

Now, I should start with a basic Japanese lesson. While these words sound the same in English, the two characters for “Fuji” in Mt. Fuji (富士) are different from the one character that represents that word in Kawachi Fuji-en (藤). The latter means “wisteria”; the former…well, that’s not relevant to the topic at hand.

To be sure, as you’re planning a trip to the wisteria tunnel in Japan, the important thing to remember is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the country’s more famous Fuji. (Even though this place, to its credit, is becoming legendary for all kinds of other reasons.)

Need help planning your next trip to Japan? Commission a custom Japan itinerary!

Where is the Wisteria Tunnel in Japan?

The Japan wisteria tunnel, to the surprise of some people, is not near a major tourist destination. Rather, you’ll find Kawachi Fuji-en (as it’s officially known) on a mountainside about 15 minutes by car from Kokura Station. This Shinkansen hub is about halfway between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Hiroshima, and is accessible via all Shinkansen Sakura departures and many super-fast Mizuho and Nozomi ones as well.

As I’ll explain in more detail over the coming paragraphs, it really is much easier if you plan on spending a night somewhere near the tunnel, be that in Kokura (which is ideal) or at a minimum somewhere near Hakata Station in Fukuoka. In my opinion, Kokura (or elsewhere in sprawling Kitakyushu City) is the best best, since Fukuoka is over an hour away from the tunnel by car. But more on that in a second!

How to Visit Japan’s Wisteria Tunnel

Buy your tickets online in advance


You can’t buy tickets at the entrance of Kawachi Wisteria Garden, as a very unlucky Japanese couple found out the day I went. The good news, if you don’t live in Japan, is that you can now buy tickets online at this website, starting on March 25 of the year you plan to visit. I recommend purchasing them for somewhere from April 26-May 1, though different years see different blooming peaks (the garden’s official website tracks the progress!).

Book a night in Kitakyushu


Because this location for seeing wisteria in Japan is relatively remote, you’ll want to sleep as close to it as possible. I’m speaking specifically about somewhere near Kokura Station, the main Shinkansen hub for the city of Kitakyushu. Several business hotels are located within a short walk of the station, so this shouldn’t create much stress on your part.

(And research how to get there)


If you already plan to be in Fukuoka (or anywhere else on the Kyushu Shinkansen Line), it’s very easy to reach Kokura. If, on the other hand, you’ll be elsewhere in Japan, you might need to put a little more thought into incorporating a stop at the wisteria tunnel into your trip. This could be a great reason to consider hiring me to help you!

Rent a car (and get an IDP, if you don’t have one)


Unless you want to book an expensive taxi from Kokura Station (I’m talking at least ¥5,000 each way, and probably more), the only realistic way to see the Japan wisteria is to rent your own car. Although there are certain frustrations to renting a car in Japan, it’s a necessary evil in some cases, this being one of them. As a reminder, driving in Japan does require an International Driving Permit, which Americans can obtain from AAA.

Savor every moment


I would be a hypocrite if I told you not to take lots of pictures or selfie at Japan’s wisteria tunnel. However, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to try and be present in the moment, particularly once you exit the tunnel. The reality is that for most travelers, a trip here is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, if only because of how complicated it is to get here. You owe it to yourself to make the most of every minute you’re here!

Other Places to See Wisteria in Japan

Can’t make it to Kawachi Fuji-en, or simply don’t want to go to the trouble of doing so? No worries—there are many other places you can see wisteria in Japan:

  • Byodo-in temple in Uji, Kyoto
  • Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi prefecture near Nikko
  • Kameido Shrine in central Tokyo
  • Kenroku-en garden in Kanazawa

Beyond these and the wisteria tunnel in Japan, you can also often see wisteria vines twisting around evergreen trees, and at various other places in nature. During late April and early May, fuji is as ubiquitous in Japan as Mt. Fuji!

Other FAQ About Visiting Japan’s Wisteria Tunnel

Where is the best place for wisteria in Japan?

The most iconic place for wisteria in Japan is undoubtedly Kawachi Fuji-en in Kitakyushu City, about an hour by car from Fukuoka. However, you can also see wisteria at various gardens, shrines and temples throughout Japan, as well as in the wild.

When should I visit Wisteria Tunnel?

The wisteria tunnel at Kawachi Fuji-en generally reaches peak bloom sometime in late April or early May—either during or just before the Golden Week holiday. The park’s official website and Instagram account post frequent updates about the blooming status.

Does Fuji mean wisteria in Japanese?

Fuji (藤) does mean “wisteria” in Japanese, though you should be aware that this is a different character to the ones (富士) used for the name of the mountain. These characters mean “rich” and “soil” respectively—in other words, nothing to do with the other fuji at all.

The Bottom Line

The wisteria tunnel in Japan far exceed the expectations I had for it, if I can be completely honest. This is first and foremost because this Kyushu wisteria garden is more than the famous tunnel. Once you’ve exited it, you have a couple of large wisteria domes, plus several massive trees that grow out over more traditionally trellises. Secondly, although it is kind of a pain to reach the place—you definitely have to rent a car—the process is much less painful than you might imagine, even if fears about its difficulty are part of what keep Kawachi Fuji-en relatively uncrowded. Need personalized help putting your trip together? Consider hiring me to plan it!


Subscribe to email updates!


Words, images and design ©2018-2024 Robert Schrader, All rights reserved. Read Privacy Policy or view sitemap.