Beauty abounds in Ashikaga, where mountain-top temples meet wisteria blooms and mesmerizing gardens. The birthplace of one of Japan’s most influential clans, Ashikaga also features numerous cultural and historical treasures, including Japan’s oldest school.
Things to do in Ashikaga
The city’s biggest draw is Ashikaga Flower Park, which lures floral enthusiasts in with its wisteria blooms. Meander through a tunnel of lilac, sapphire and blushing pick wisteria and enjoy a picnic beneath a 100-year-old Fuji tree.
See the world’s most extensive collection of Japanese porcelain at the Kurita Museum. Nestled in landscaped gardens, the museum features two types of porcelain. Marvel at the intricate designs of Imari ware and compare the ornate details to the bolder creations seen on Nabeshima ware.
The city’s 12th-century Bannaji Temple showcases exotic beauty and an immense size. Built by the ancient Ashikaga clan who ruled Japan during the Muromachi era, the temple’s entrance is guarded by defensive walls and a surrounding moat. Venture inside the rare Buddhist temple, explore four hectares of ornamental gardens and witness a 600-year-old ginkgo tree.
For splendid views over Ashikaga, visit the red-lacquered Orihime Shrine perched atop a hillside in Orihime Park. Orihime translates as “weaving princess” and the shrine reflects Ashikaga’s prosperous history as a textile town. Behind Orihime Park, hikers will find an array of mountainous trails in Ashikaga Prefectural Nature Park.
Getting around Ashikaga
Ashikaga is a two-hour train ride or 1.5-hour drive from Tokyo. Buses run directly from Narita Airport in around three hours. Ashikaga is pleasant to explore on foot, while local buses are also available.