The Hill of Many Flowers

Yes, it is the middle of the week. And I usually post on the weekend. But I’ve been gallivanting around so much lately that I wanted to take some time to record some of my travels, before they fade from my memory.

This past weekend, many of my team members and I went on a trip to Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki prefecture, about a three-hour train ride from where I live. The trip had already been planned ahead of time by the senior teachers, so we new teachers were happy to be invited since we still aren’t really familiar with the area and what there is to do. So on Saturday morning, we awoke bright and early to hop on the six o’clock train. Although the ride was long, I enjoyed it – I love riding trains (at least the ones in this area), and I got to see some of the beautiful countryside, as well as the city of Iwaki.

We arrived at the vast park mid-morning, taking a short bus ride from the train station since the walk would have been too long. The park is known for its flowers – huge patches of them, with different flowers blooming in different seasons. The flowers blooming during our visit were tulips and a blue flower called nemophila. I had never heard of nemophila, but according to Wikipedia (which we all know is thoroughly reliable), they do grow in the U.S. – but the western end, which explains why I’ve never seen them before.

First, the tulips. There was a wooded area filled with many tulip patches, of every color and variety imaginable. Unfortunately, there were so many people around that I ended up taking very close-up photos at awkward angles, as I tried to avoid humans in the background as much as possible.

Multi-colored tulip patch
Tulips, tulips, and more tulips…
One of my favorites!

After visiting with and taking photos of tulips to our hearts’ content, we moved on to the big highlight – the nemophila. Basically, it’s a light blue flower, and at this park they have planted massive amounts of it, covering several hills. In fact, when we peeked through the woods on our way there, at first glance it looked like water. The ocean actually was on the other side of the hills. But the blue that we saw was just the nemophila, thousands upon thousands, covering the ground like a blanket. The only thing that marred the sight was the people, traversing the paths like ants on a hill…

Nemophila!
A sea of blue
From the top of the hill

After a couple hours of flower viewing, we waited in some abominably long lines to buy lunch, then wandered around the adjoining kid-geared amusement park. After that, we walked to a nearby Costco, which I think for some of us was one of the highlights of the trip! We perused the aisles with excitement, eyeing many familiar American foods and basically wanting to buy it all! I ended up coming away with cereal (which is expensive in the local grocery stores, with very few varieties), dried fruit, and a 60-count box of granola bars (which I haven’t been able to find here yet!). Unfortunately, much of the snack food here is unhealthy, and the healthy things that I like (fruit, yogurt, etc.) is rather expensive. At least I now have my granola bars to tide me over for awhile…

The day ended with a snack-buying spree at the train station before we boarded the six o’clock train for home. I ended up sleeping most of the way, which seemed like a good way to finish off a fun-filled day!

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