“Tulips," the Main Feature of Spring in Toyama, Where Beautiful Flowers Bloom-1

“Tulips," the Main Feature of Spring in Toyama, Where Beautiful Flowers Bloom

Toyama Prefecture is proud to boast the largest shipment of tulip bulbs in Japan, and the tulip has been selected as the prefectural flower. Tonami, located in the southwestern part of the prefecture, has continued tulip cultivation for over 100 years. Why did tulip cultivation take root in Tonami, you ask? Here’s the story of the connection between these pretty tulips and Toyama.

Boasting the Largest Shipments of Tulip Bulbs in Japan, Tulips Spreads Across Tonami

In spring, Tonami is filled with colorful tulips as far as the eye can see, and the area where tulips bloom resembles a beautiful flower garden. It’s a sight that will leave you mesmerized. These tulips are not for ornamental purposes, but are actually grown for bulb cultivation. Toyama is the number one producer of tulip bulbs in Japan, and more than 40% of bulb cultivation farmers (including organizations) in the prefecture are located in Tonami. During the “Tonami Tulip Fair,”  you can also take a shuttle bus from Tonami Tulip Park and tour the tulip fields in full bloom.

Starting with Ten Bulbs, a History of Cultivation Passed Down for More Than 100 Years

Going back more than 100 years, Bunzo Mizuno, known as the father of tulips, planted around ten bulbs as a second crop following rice cultivation, and the first tulips bloomed in Tonami. At that time, tulips were still rare in Japan, and the cut flowers sold at high prices at the market, and with the bulb growing so well, the momentum for bulb cultivation suddenly increased, and full-scale production began.

Snowfall on Well-Draining Land Creates Natural Conditions Suitable for Cultivation

The Tonami Plain is a fan-shaped area of the Shogawa River that connects to Toyama Bay, and consists of sandy loam and well-drained gravel. In winter, the paddy fields are covered with snow, and the underground temperature and humidity are consistent, so there is no need to worry about running out of water. In spring, sunny skies and an abundance of sunlight combine to create favorable conditions for bulb growth. Originally in Tonami, the snow season continued for a long time, and it was thought that there were no suitable crops other than rice, but it was also a suitable environment for growing tulip bulbs.

A Variety of Colors and Petal Shapes

It is said that until now, there are over 8,000 varieties of tulips in the world. Even in Toyama, approximately 200 original varieties have been created. The second-generation tulip tower, completed in 2021 at Tonami Tulip Park, follows the motif "Kikomachi,'' "Hakuun,'' and "Toyama Red'' which are original varieties from Toyama. Tulip flowers are classified into fifteen types, and they delight us with the way they bloom, such as lily blooms with thin, and fringe blooms, where the edges of the petals are jagged like the teeth of a saw.

Cultivating Tulips Using Clear Waters of the Shogawa River, and Shipping Cut Flowers Nationwide from December to March

In Tonami, in addition to bulbs, tulip cultivation for cut flowers is also popular. Every year from mid-December to the end of March, the "Gonshoji Agricultural Union" uses underground water from the Shogawa River to ship as many as 150,000 cut tulips in one season. The union creates ridges in the greenhouse and grows bulbs in nutrient-rich soil. Because it is cultivated in the ground, it’s characteristically strong and lasts a long time. The harvest date is determined so that they will be in its most beautiful condition when you receive them. Tulips from Tonami are delivered not only at roadside stations and supermarkets in the prefecture but also to flower shops across the country via markets in Tokyo.

Tulips are the star of Toyama in spring. Japan's largest flower festival held every year

The tulip, also the prefectural flower, is a beloved symbol of Toyama and Tonami. The "Tonami Tulip Fair" which is held from late April to early May when the tulips in the flower beds and fields are in full bloom, is a spring tradition in Toyama that attracts many tourists from all over the country. It all started when the field of a horticulture branch where tulips were cultivated was opened to the public to preserve the variety, and this year marks the 71st event. Drawn by the cheerful spring weather of Tonami, let’s go to where the tulips are blooming.

The only tulip garden in the world where you can admire tulips in full bloom all year round.

Near Tonami Tulip Park, you’ll find the "Tonami Tulip Gallery,” where tulips in full bloom will welcome you no matter the time of year. The Wonder Garden that spreads out right from the entrance, is a bright space flooded with natural light, where you can enjoy seasonal flowers and tulips together. In addition, at the "Tulip Palace," a 3.7 m tall cylinder decorated with 504 cut tulips, you can have the unique experience of being completely surrounded by tulips.

As you walk through the building, there is a pallet garden where the room temperature is kept at 15 degrees throughout the year. The space, designed to look like a kaleidoscope, is a flower garden filled with 5,000 tulips of twenty varieties. When you look into the kaleidoscope placed in the room, you will see that the tulips create a fantastic view. The reason you can see so many tulips year-round is because there is a tulip cultivation facility in a separate building. The tulips abound in the Wonder Garden are grown with great care by the staff. They try not to let the tulips they use for display die throughout the year, using three cultivation methods: "forcing," "controlling," and "normal cultivation."

The next section, Wonder Farm, introduces the cultivation methods of tulips, the secrets behind the bulbs, and the history of how tulip cultivation became popular in Tonami, through illustrations, video, audio guidance, and other exhibits and explanations. There are also items on display that will make your heart dance when you see them, such as tulip-patterned vessels and tiles.

At the museum shop, there are sticky notes with tulip motifs and tin incense holders shaped like tulips, so please use them as a reference when choosing souvenirs.

Walk Around Tonami and Look Cute Designs Throughout the Town Where You Can Find Tulips

The entire city is excited about Tonami being a tulip town, and, as such, there are structures with tulip motifs installed here and there. When you see the cute designs, you’ll feel like your feelings themselves are blooming. Wouldn’t it be fun to look for while walking?


Enjoy Tulips Not Only With Your Eyes But with Your Tongue

"Kawai Kashiho," located a 5–6-minute walk from the front exit of Tonami Station, is a Japanese sweets store founded in the early Meiji era. Currently, Atsushi Kawai is the fourth-generation owner. "Three-colored tulips" which have a cute rounded tulip shape, were created in the 1955, right after the tulip was chosen as the flower of Toyama Prefecture. In each of the three colors, you’ll find two types of homemade bean paste. The shop also sells Japanese sweets made from tulip bulbs and petals, so be sure to check them out.

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