Japan's Wisteria Flower Tunnels gearing up for full bloom

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Kawachi Fujien, a Kitakyushu garden known for its "wisteria flower tunnels," will limit the number of visitors for the first time from April 23 to May 8, when the flowers are expected to blossom.

The decision was made in response to a surge in visitors from all across the country and abroad after the garden was featured on foreign media outlets. Tickets are sold at major convenience store chains.

Kawachi Fujien is a privately owned garden facility in Yahata-Higashi Ward, Kitakyushu, that opened in 1977. About 20 types of purple, white and pink wisteria blossom in the 0.5-hectare garden, and visitors can enjoy two tunnels 80 meters and 130 meters in length and wisteria trellises. The garden has become a tourist attraction, partly due to the fact that the flowers blossom during the Golden Week holiday period.

The park was featured as one of "Japan's 31 most beautiful places" on the website of the US television network CNN last March and used in the filming of a Thai TV drama. Since then, it has been widely talked about, including on Twitter.

According to the garden's operators and other sources, the number of visitors has increased rapidly and is on its way to doubling. About 20 per cent of the visitors are from overseas.

The garden is in a mountainous area and there is no public transportation, so tourists' cars and buses have caused traffic jams. Traffic jams are expected this year as well, so the garden consulted the city and decided to sell tickets with specified dates and times. It plans to create two-hour time slots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and prepare about 3,000 tickets for each day.

The tickets will cost ¥500 (S$6.20), but since the entrance fee can vary from ¥500 to ¥1,500 depending on whether the flowers have blossomed, visitors will have to pay the difference when they enter.