[The 2020 Sakura Festival was cancelled due to coronavirus.]
Where is Ogi Park?
Ogi Park in Saga prefecture is well worth a visit when the cherry blossoms (sakura) are in full bloom. Ogi City is just 18 minutes by train from Saga City on the Karatsu line. It’s a city famous for Ogi Youkan – a sweet bean paste. The city is quiet and has some beautiful sights outside the park, such as the Kiyomizu falls further north in the mountains.
Ogi – ‘Little Kyoto’ City in Kyushu
Although called a city, Ogi is more of a countryside town surrounded by beautiful nature, and has a peaceful atmosphere. Ogi is said to have been known as “little Kyoto” and much like Kyoto, it is a great place to see the traditional side of Japan. Unlike Kyoto though, it isn’t one of the top tourist destinations which makes it an ideal place to visit if you would like to see a lesser known part of Japan.
The park itself is only a five minute walk away from Ogi station. Entry is free and it is open all day and night. By night, it is lit up for night time viewing. Parking is also available and there are entrances at various points around the park. As you approach, you are greeted by a view of cherry blossom trees that stretch throughout and surround the park.
Ogi Park is said to have around 3000 cherry blossom trees. When they are in full bloom, it is a spectacular sight to see. On entering the park from the south entrance, you can walk along a pathway lined with trees and enjoy being surrounded by the petals. As you keep walking, you will come across a pond where you can see beautiful reflections of the trees surrounding the pond in the water. A smaller pond on the farther side of the park has a water feature in the centre, adding to the beautiful view. Some large koi fish also live here and food is available from the nearby shops to feed them.
Ogi Park, Nice Destinations for the Cherry Blossom Season
The park continues on up a hillside. At the top of this there is a small shrine and spots to look out over the view of the park and city. The hill is a little steep near the top but the pathway going around it is easy to access. During the day many people come to view the cherry blossoms and have picnics but the best time to view them is in the early morning before the crowds arrive. The park is quiet at this time and it is the optimal time to take photographs, especially when the trees are in full bloom and the sun is shining.
The cherry blossom season here usually starts around the end of March to the beginning of April and lasts around two weeks. At this time there are food stalls set up around the park so you can easily come and eat lunch while enjoying the stunning view. A variety of Japanese food and sweets are available. You can bring a picnic mat and sit on the grassy area in the centre of the park in the traditional hanami “flower viewing” style, or take a seat at any of the benches surrounding the pond. There are also convenience stores about five minutes walk away and toilets are available in the park. With all this, it’s easy to spend an afternoon or a full day at Ogi Park.
Best Season to Visit Ogi Park
Though the best time to visit is when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the park is also worth visiting when the petals are falling. As they start to fall they cover the water surfaces like a blanket and you can be surrounded by falling petals. When there is a gust of wind it looks like it’s raining petals and the ground is covered with pale pink snow.
Besides the cherry blossom season, Ogi Park is also a lovely spot to visit at other times of the year. The wisteria flowers bloom around May and from around May to June there are spots by the water where you can see fireflies at night. At any time of year it is a beautiful spot for a quiet walk around enjoying the nature and traditional sights such as the small shrine on the hill.
Though it’s quite a popular spot for local residents and people from other parts of Saga, it’s sadly not so well known among visitors from abroad. Saga has beautiful natural scenery and Ogi Park is one of the best spots to see this. With its easy access you can visit for a day, afternoon or stop by at night for the ‘yozakura’ – night time cherry blossom. With its
abundance of cherry blossom trees and beautiful water features, Ogi Park is definitely worth a visit at this time of year.
Ogi Park – Information
Entry: Free entry
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Address: 185 Ogimachi, Ogi, Saga Prefecture
Phone: 0952-37-6129 (Ogi Town Hall)
Access: 5 minutes by foot from Ogi Station