Have you ever experienced summer in Kitakata, Fukushima ? Well buckle, up because you’re in for a delightful treat!
Silent drops of sweat agonizingly wetting the collars of working people, the chirping cicadas amongst the hinoki trees, little frogs croaking in endless green rice paddies, the soft buzzing of handheld electric fans, and groans of students having to attend club activities.
Summer was finally here, and it was everything I had been warned about.
Okay, I’m trying not to be too dramatic here, but for those who don’t know, Japan’s summers are notorious for their crazy humidity and unrivalled heat. At the peak of the season, I kid you not, people are swimming in their own clothes or potentially drowning from the sweat dripping down their brows.
All jokes aside, it was summer break of 2019 and my manager was gracious enough to let me have a couple weeks off to rest and recuperate. I took the opportunity to do some google searching (more like finding Instagram worthy locations) and started seeing all these sunflowers popping up on my feed.
Curious, I did a little more research and found out that Sannokura Ski Resort in Kitakata, Fukushima transforms into a sunflower field every summer. A whole 8.3 hectares of highlands transform into fields of gold!
The best part is, it was less than an hour from where I lived! I was excited to see over 2 million of these vibrant yellow flowers that were taller than me and, luckily enough, so were my friends ( who needed my car!).
Come Saturday, it was hot and humid as usual, but somehow, my excitement to explore a new place made the heat seem insignificant. Equipping myself with a straw hat and menthol body wipes (these things are a godsend and highly recommend that you get some), I set off on my adventure!
When Should I Visit ?
The best time to visit this place would definitely be between early August and mid September. Most will have bloomed by mid August. I allowed the breeze to take me through the small paths that wove between the flowers, and it was beautiful. At noon, when the sun was at its highest, the colours of the flowers were at their brightest, making them almost blinding to look at.
I refused to succumb to the heat and continued on to find my postcard picture. A quick hike up one of the hills in the middle of the field made all that perspiring worthwhile. Reaching the hill’s peak, Aizu Basin’s magnificent view greeted me, complete with the silhouette of Mt Bandai and sunflowers that went on for miles on end.
How Do I Get There?
Having a car would be undoubtedly be the most convenient method, as there is parking available at the entrance. There’s also a shuttle service available to bring visitors from the base of the mountain to the top.
For Google reference, type in:
Kitagongenmoriko-857 Atsushiokanomachi Aita, Kitakata, Fukushima 966-0108
If you’re coming from Sendai, you’re in for a journey just over 2.5 hours whereas from Tokyo, it will be about 4 hours (Bear in mind, they are toll roads so there will be hefty ETC charges).
However, if you’d like to soak up all the inaka (countryside) scenery, hop onto a train from Koriyama station to Kitakata station (JR Ban’etsu West Line: 1 hour & 45 mins) and then hail a taxi to Sannokura (approx 40 minutes).
The thrill of experiencing or encountering something new is one of my favorite things. When surrounded by the people I love, it becomes a memory I’ll never forget. Friends are the sunshine of life and as bright as the sunflowers gleamed at noon, so my heart shone alike.
Check out STAY JAPAN to book a stay in Fukushima and enjoy the same experience as Alex!