Photo courtesy of Higashi Village Office
Photo courtesy of Higashi Village Office

Azalea festival in Higashi-son cancelled

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Editor’s note: Due to the ongoing coronavirus spread, organizers for this year’s Tsutsuji Matsuri have cancelled the event planned from Mar. 1-22. Please visit Okinawa.stripes.com for the latest updates on this and other cancellations.

 

When Okinawa’s cherry blossom season ends, colorful azaleas move in and carry the torch.

From March 1 - 22, Tsutsuji Matsuri, or Azalea Festival, will return to Sonmin no Mori Tsutsuji En (Villagers’ Forest and Azalea Park) in Higashi-son, for its 38th installment.

Located about a 40-minute drive from Camp Schwab and 90 minutes from Camp Foster, Higashi-son is famous for its pineapples, water, and flowers. When March arrives, about 50,000 azaleas bloom there, drawing around 40,000 yearly visitors, according to the village office.

The venue boasts a superb view of the east coast and surrounding forest. The colorful Azaleas will shine even more against the backdrop of the blue and green.

While you’re visiting the flower park, don’t forget to explore other sites which make this “village of the east” a great place for some adventure.

For some great strolling, try Hirugi Park, a mere 10-minute drive away from the azalea parks, which offers a boardwalk through a forest of Rhizophoraceae mangrove trees.

Also, less than a 10-minute drive from Azalea Park is Matayoshi Coffee Farm where you can now enjoy a zipline course. Glide through the coffee trees for an exhilarating experience, try their ATV rides or even take a leisurely stroll on the grounds.

In comparison to the busy, resort-heavy western coast of Okinawa, Higashi-son is the polar opposite — a laid back, quiet area. But don’t let this fool you, because every March, the area is teeming with visitors wanting to catch a glimpse of the azalea blossoms.
Come to Higashi-son and explore what the “Village of flower, water, and pineapple” has to offer.

 

Higashison Tsutsuji Matsuri (Higashi Village Azalea Festival)

Location: Higashison Min no Mori Tsutsuji en (Azalea Park in Higashi villagers’ Forest) 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.639615, E 128.159249
Dates: Mar. 1 – 22
Hours: Mon. – Fri. from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat., Sun., holidays 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
    * On March 7 and 14, the festival will be held between 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. where Azalea flowers are illuminated from 6 – 9 p.m.
Admission: 300 yen (approx. $2.75) for high school students and above; free for middle school students and below.
    * Many food stands are expected to open during the festival. 
    * Free Parking

Hirugi Park 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.604014, E 128.144789
    * Free Parking

Matayoshi Coffee Farm 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.609960, E 128.143926
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. 
    * Free Parking
        Zipline ride costs 4,500 yen for 16 years old and above; 3,500 yen for 15 years old and below.
Website: http://yambarunture.okinawa/lp/
Tel: 0980-43-2666

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