Tokyo German Village – 東京ドイツ村

Chiba, December千葉 12月

My husband and I visited the Kikuchi Family and Chiba once again in the winter. Kumi and Hiroto took us to see a magnificent illumination in the middle of the countryside; Tokyo German Village, which is actually in Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture.


This winter illumination is one of the three best illumination of the Kanto area, they have three million LED lights on the landscape, all over the fields and buildings. The theme park is open throughout the year; visitors can enjoy the illumination during winter, and the seasonal flower fields, golf course and picnics in summer. There is also German food and beverages.


Tokyo German Village

419, Nagayoshi, Sodegaura, Chiba, 299-0204 Japan


〒299-0204 千葉県袖ケ浦市永吉419

Senshu Park – 千秋公園

Akita, May秋田 5月

The last day of my Rail Pass I traveled to Akita City, the hometown of Endo. The journey from Tokyo took almost four hours even with the Shinkansen. Cherry blossoms had already fallen, but now it was azalea blooming time, and everywhere was bright pink, aniline red and purple bushes.


Senshu Park is in the heart of the city; a luscious green oasis full of things to see throughout the seasons. It’s built to the ruins of Kubota Castle, and there still are some of those ancient buildings like omonogashira gobansho, the guard house. One of the Kubota Castle’s turret towers is restored, and open to the public.


The park is one of Japan’s top 100 historical parks as well as one of the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots. They also have a beautiful Kogetsu pond, a few museums and shrines in the area.


The outer moat
Kogetsu Pond
Tower of Kubota Castle
View from the tower

Senshu Park

1-6 Senshukoen, Akita, 010-0876, Japan

Kubota Castle Ruins

1-39 Senshukoen, Akita, 010-0876, Japan


〒010-0876 秋田県秋田市千秋公園1


〒010-0876 秋田県秋田市1 秋田市千秋公園1番4

Shōdoshima, Day Two – 小豆島 2日目

Kagawa, May香川 5月

Our accommodation was comfortable; the cabin had a kitchen/living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a balcony with a great view to the sea. Near was a hot spring, which we visited before going to sleep, so we could wake up refreshed to the new day.


After breakfast we said goodbye to our lovely cabin and drove off to see the day’s first sight: senmaida, ‘one thousand rice fields’ arranged like tiny shelves on top of each other on the hillside. Probably because I come from a very flat country, everything related to mountains are enchanting for me, but these fields! How is it possible to cultivate them?


Next we visited the Shōdoshima Olive Park, which was like a small piece of Greek with its beautiful flower and herb beds, olive groves and shiny-white buildings. They also have Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service herb shop Corico that was a must-see for Chihiro and me.

次に、小豆島オリーブ公園を訪れました。美しい花とハーブの花だん、オリーブの木立、輝くような白い建物があって、そこはまるでギリシャの一角のようでした。スタジオジブリ「魔女の宅急便」の映画のロケセットがあるハーブショップ コリコは、千尋と私には必見の場所でした。

Sunrise from our cabin
Senmaida fields
At the Olive Park
Kiki’s Delivery Service herb shop Corico

Shōdoshima Olive Park

1941-1, Kagawa, Shozu-gun, Shōdoshima, Nishimura, 761-4434 Japan

道の駅 小豆島オリーブ公園

〒761-4434 香川県小豆郡小豆島町西村甲1941-1

Mihama-en Japanese Garden – 日本庭園 見浜園

Chiba, March千葉 3月

I found this beautiful gem by accident when searching some flea market at Makuhari Messe. It was Saturday, and the garden was like a peaceful oasis in the middle of a busy city and its skyscrapers. In fact, there was only me and one of the park’s gardeners.


Mihama-en is a part of Chiba Prefectural Makuhari Seaside Park, and it’s a classic Japanese strolling garden with ponds, islands, waterfalls, streams and artificial hills. All these alluring elements combined to the refreshing quietness of the place made this garden very enjoyable. There is also a teahouse made from Japanese cedar by the pond.


Despite the artificial aspects of the garden and the skyscrapers on the horizon, there is still a strong sense of nature. The pond was full of life; tadpoles, carps and a lot of waterfowl were swimming about.


Teahouse by the pond


2-116 Hibino, Mihama Ward, Chiba, 261-0021 Japan

日本庭園 見浜園

〒261-0021 千葉県千葉市美浜区ひび野2−116

Mobara Peony Garden – 茂原牡丹園

Chiba, April千葉 4月

61-year-old Jinpuu senior Endo and I spent a delightful day amid huge flowers at their fullest bloom. After an unfortunate flat tire we arrived at the magnificent peony garden, and for once the weather was perfect. For me this was truly a rare experience; this garden is something you cannot see in everyday life, at least if you live in Finland.


I love old buildings, so that was another reason why I enjoyed this garden so much; their super-charming thatched-roofed farmhouses from the Edo era! It makes all the difference, the balance of the garden and its untouched harmony. The gorgeous peony flowers were under waxed paper parasols because of the strong sunshine, and that made the garden look even more beautiful.


The garden is open only a short period between the end of April and the beginning of May when the Peony’s are blooming. They also have a lot of other interesting plants, trees and flowers, for example Davidia involucrata, Dove tree (or Handkerchief tree).


After the serene garden visit we had lunch; Endo took me to eat unagi, eel, which we both love.


At the entrance
The garden’s restaurant

Mobara Peony Garden

210 Yamasaki, Mobara, Chiba, 297-0061, Japan


〒297-0061 千葉県茂原市山崎210

Bus Tour 1: Sawara – バスツアー1: 佐原

Chiba, March 千葉 3月

One Sunday Jinpuu organized a bus tour for their employees. The trip started from Chiba City at dawn, and everything was pre-arranged by Kikuchi. Our first destination was Sawara, the Little Edo, which is designated as ‘Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings’.


Hinamatsuri, celebrated on the third day of the third month, was long gone, but the Girls’ Day’s dolls were still out in the open. Once again we had rain, and the clouds hung low when we headed for the boat parade at Onokawa River.


Next we visited the amazing Inō Tadataka Museum; this national hero spent 17 years of his life to make an accurate map of Japan. The result of walking 35,000 kilometres is the first modern map of Japan, Dai Nihon Enkai Yochi Zenzu, which was published 1821 after his death. At the museum we could compare the Dai Nihon Enkai Yochi Zenzu and map made with the latest technology; they were almost exact.


We had lunch at Auberge De Manoir KITTEI restaurant. We enjoyed a delicious meal and beverages while watching the greenery from large windows. The charming building was amid a beautiful garden, in which we took a walk afterwards.

それから私たちはオーベルジュ・ド ・マノワール 吉庭でお昼を食べました。大きな窓から緑を眺めながら、美味しい食事と飲み物を味わいました。レストランの建物の周囲には素敵な庭園があって、食後には散歩を楽しみました。

The Onogawa River
The boat parade
The restaurant and its garden
Our bus
Joyful atmosphere at the bus

Tadataka Ino Memorial Museum

I-1722-1, Katori, Chiba, 287-0003, Japan

Auberge de Manoir KITTEI

I-789-2, Katori, Chiba, 287-0003, Japan


〒287-0003 千葉県香取市イ1722-1

オーベルジュ ド マノワール吉庭

〒287-0003 千葉県香取市イ789-2

At the Temple – お寺にて

Chiba, March千葉 3月

This charming place was my ultimate dream-come-true work site! And not only for its serene beauty but also for our tea and lunch breaks; the treats provided by the head priest and restaurant Chao were an everyday joy for us.


The Fukujuin Temple had recently undergone massive changes: the old temple was now unoccupied and all the action was at the brand new buildings. Thus now was time to update the garden; we made several bamboo fences, planted hedgerows, and groomed the old pine trees of the yard.


Every day the head priest served us tea, and Ogiu, Ishikawa and I enjoyed it on the temple’s wooden steps. The place had a magical atmosphere; the old temple with its detailed wood carvings stood on a small hill under a giant cherry tree, stone statues guarded the garden buried with soft moss. Some days we could hear the owl’s cries from the bamboo grove.


Tea time
The old temple
The new temple
New fence and lawn
New fence and plants
The old temple’s garden
New fence and lawn
The rope details

Fukujuin Temple

694, Kawadocho, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0802 Japan


2512, Oyumicho, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0813, Japan


〒260-0802 千葉県千葉市中央区川戸町694


〒260-0813 千葉県千葉市中央区生実町2512

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum’s Park – DIC川村記念美術館の公園

Chiba, March3月 千葉

We had to postpone hanami because of the rain and go for indoor activity instead; Mai, Yamamoto, Endo, Ishikawa and I headed to the Kawamura Memorial DIC Art Museum. For garden maniacs, this can be especially interesting because of its location. All around the building is greenery: not just forest but 10 hectare park area with its green lawns, pond and flower gardens.


The park’s 250 cherry trees were almost in full bloom, and when the rain eased, we could enjoy the scenery. This park – like many others in Japan – is a perfect place to visit during all seasons; there are always different flowers blossoming, and not to mention the autumn foliage.


We ended our tour at Italian restaurant Belvedere, where Endo bought us lunch; he was joyful because of the recent bonuses from Jinpuu, and Kikuchi also paid our museum fees.


At the Belvedere

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art

631, Sakado, Sakura, Chiba, 285-8505 Japan


631, Sakado, Sakura, Chiba, 285-0078


〒285-8505 千葉県佐倉市坂戸631


〒285-0078 千葉県佐倉市坂戸631 dic川村記念美術館敷地内

Sanyo Media Flower Museum – 三陽メディアフラワーミュージアム

Chiba, March3月 千葉

The Sanyo Media Flower Museum’s indoor Atrium Garden has seasonal themes in its flowerbeds, so when I visited the place at Easter, there were a lot of tulips, cute rabbits and Easter eggs. Also, the exhibition areas followed the same theme. Surrounded by variegated and lush beds of flowers, the gazebo looked breathtakingly beautiful.

三陽メディアフラワーミュージアムでは、季節ごとにテーマに沿った花壇が作られています。私が訪れたイースターの時期は、 アトリウムと展示棟にたくさんのチューリップ、そしてかわいいウサギとイースターエッグが展示されていました。変化に富んだ花々に囲まれたガゼボ(西洋風あずまや)は、息をのむほど美しいものでした。

Their luscious greenhouse is a round shaped, 23 metres tall building full of tropical and subtropical plants, and it even has an artificial waterfall. The museum has a restaurant and gift shop with a lovely selection of garden-inspired items.


Outdoor gardens enveloped the impressive museum building: at the front is a wide garden of seasonal flowers, in one side courtyard and the rose garden at the back of the building. Designed by the best combination of blooming time and harmony of the beds, the gardens are magnificent.


Sanyo Media Flower Museum is part of the Inage Seaside Park, which has a lot of activities. I walked along with dog-walkers and cosplayers through Japanese style garden to the artificial seashore.


Atrium flower garden at Easter
Miniature garden
The gazebo
Flower arrangements
The greenhouse
The waterfall
Outside gardens
Japanese style garden at Inage Sea Park area
Flower Museum at April: the poppy field
Outside the greenhouse was Hawaiian live music

Sanyo Media Flower Museum

7-2-4, Takahama, Mihama-ku, Chiba 261-0003 Japan


〒261-0003 千葉県千葉市美浜区高浜7丁目2−4

Mobara Park – 茂原公園

Chiba, March3月 千葉

This park is one of Japan’s 100 best places to experience sakura. My timing obviously wasn’t the best; when I visited the park, only two of their 2 850 cherry trees were blooming. But the bright side was that there was only me and four or so other people far on the horizon enjoying it.


Even without the cherry blossoms there is a lot to see; the serene Lake Benten with its carps, lazy turtles and various birds, cinnabar-red lacquer bridges, early spring flowers and enough benches to study them or just to sit and relax.


The landscape is versatile; you can walk around and over the lake, or have more intensive hike through the paths on the hills. From the top of the hill opens a nice bird’s-eye-view to the park and the surrounding residential area.

公園ではいろんな風景を楽しむことができます。湖の周囲を歩いたり、橋を渡ったり、丘の小道をハイキングするのもオススメです。 丘の上からは、公園と周辺の住宅街を眺めることができます。

The Bentendou
The hiking path climbs high on the hills

Mobara Park

1325-1 Takashi, Mobara, Chiba, 297-0029 Japan


〒297-0029 千葉県茂原市高師1325-1