When: May 28 – June 26
Where: Ayame-en (Iris Park) and various other locations around Itako
Official Website (Japanese)
This festival’s history goes back to 1952, when it was conducted by iris-lovers placing the cut flowers in beer bottles as decorations. From late May till the end of June, you can enjoy the beauty of around one million purple, yellow, and white iris plants of 500 different varieties blooming around Itako.
During the festival there will be a number of events, including ayame-odori (iris dancing) and yome-iri fune (bridal boats).
Up until the land reclamation operations conducted as part of local development in the first half of 1955, the Itako area was built upon a system of canals. For that reason, when a new bride and/or her goods were to be transported to her new home (the husband’s family home) it was done using a Sappa boat.
The yome-iri fune during the Ayame Festival will be operating along the Maekawa River within Ayame-en every Wednesday (11am), Saturday (11am, 2pm and 7:30pm), and Sunday (11am and 2pm) throughout the festival. After arriving at the ‘Itako Bride’ memorial, the bride will walk along the pathway to the boat with her matchmaker and the boatman, then the boat will set off. Often the groom will be waiting at the dock of the destination. On the 15th and 22nd of June at 7:30pm you can see the special Milky Way Yome-iri Fune.
Every day of the festival from 6:30 – 10pm, the irises in Ayame-en will be lit up, creating an ethereal atmosphere.
Boat tours operate from 9am – 4:30pm every day during the festival. On Saturdays they also operate from 6 – 7pm. Tickets for adults are 1000 yen and tickets for elementary school children are 500 yen. Children younger than elementary age ride free.
Access to Ayame-e
By Train: 3 minutes’ walk from Itako Station
By Car: 10 minutes from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway