Hi! I recently visited Hanawa Town to the south of Fukushima Prefecture. Hanawa is a really small town. It is so small, in fact, that my recent visit was the first time I’d ever passed through it during my 3 years of living in Fukushima Prefecture!
Although I hadn’t been to Hanawa before, I’ve known about the town being famous for dahlia since I first moved here. This is because representatives from the town came to my office during the first month of my time in Fukushima as part of local promotion efforts.
Hanawa’s Dahlia Garden
There are over 300 varieties of dahlia grown at Hanawa Town’s Dahlia Garden, and over 5000 plants. Local people celebrate the beauty of these flowers by holding a dahlia festival during the early autumn months in the hope of introducing people from near and far to their meticulously-grown flowers.
I visited the garden, which is located at a hotel called ‘Yuyu Land Hanawa’, and was really surprised at the huge variety in the shapes, and sizes of the dahlias. I was expecting the vast range of colours, but was impressed by just how different flowers within the same family could look.
I took a few photos of the flowers that caught my eye the most.
It was fun to look at the names given to different flowers and to try and guess the reason behind them. For example, here is a photo of a flower called “小さな恋の物語 (Chiisana koi no monogatari)” which translates into English as “The tale of a small romance”. I’m sure there’s a story here…
One of the other ways in which Hanawa Town celebrates its tradition of growing dahlia is by running hand-dyeing workshops, in which visitors can dye their own handkerchief or shawl with dye made from the petals of Hanawa Town’s dahlia flowers.
I was lucky enough to have Shiraishi san guide me through the hand-dyeing experience on the day of my visit. The workshop was held outside the traditional farm house that stands next to the Yuyu Land Dahlia parking area.
Shiraishi san runs the Hanawa Town “Dahlia Hand-Dyeing Association”, and has been sharing her love of dahlia with visitors for over a decade.
The hand-dying experience was very different from the tie-dying that I remember doing when I was in elementary school. I definitely prefer the visual effect created by Shiraishi san’s method of dyeing.
This hand-dyeing experience only takes about one hour (including drying time), and can be completed in 7 easy steps:
1. Wash the material
This is especially important if you buy a new handkerchief, which might be coated in a thin, slightly sticky layer.
2. Fold the fabric and secure with elastic bands
Instead of scrunching the fabric up randomly before tying bands around it and placing it in dye, we folded up our fabric in an origami-like pattern. We also ran our elastic bands multiple times around the fabric in different places before securing it.
3. Place the fabric in the dye and press it into it
Put gloves on when you do this bit! Shiraishi san does this so often that she can do the whole process without gloves on, but it’s a must for people (like me) with sensitive skin.
Try doing a kneading movement with your hands to make sure the fabric gets completely soaked in the dye.
4. Place the fabric in a colour-stabilising liquid
5. Rinse the fabric
After you have made sure the liquid has reached its way into most of the fabric, remove the fabric and rinse it with water and soap.
6. Dry the fabric out on a clothes line.
Undo the elastic bands to reveal the pattern within! After you have unfolded the material completely, peg it up on the clothes line.
7. Iron the fabric
Shiraishi san will do this bit!
The result: a beautiful, orangey-yellow handkerchief! (Visitors can also choose from other available colours).
I think I prefer the design that Shiraishi san created, but practice makes perfect! Also, I think it’s cool that even if you were to do this experience with a group of friends, each of whom folded the fabric and tied the bands in the same way, each design would still have a totally different feel.
Lunch (Fairly) Nearby
We stopped by at Tsumaraya in Yabuki Town for lunch. This restaurant is about a 1 hour drive away from Yuyu Land Hanawa. This might seem far, but it’s located about half way between Koriyama / Fukushima City and Hanawa Town.
Lunch at this ramen shop was great – I really recommend it. It was a lively, busy atmosphere but we got to sit down straight away. Also the tomato ramen was incredible.
I had a fun day in Hanawa Town and recommend it to anyone who loves flowers or crafts or both! Make sure to check out the Dahlia Garden before the end of October.
About visiting the Dahlia Garden
- Best Season: August to late October
- Park Entry: 350 yen
- Reaching the garden: Take the JR Suigun Line from Koriyama Station to Iwaki-Hanawa Station. From Iwaki-Hanawa Station, either take a taxi for 34 min, or take a local bus as far as Noko Center Mae before walking 700 m to the park. (I recommend going by car).
About Hand-Dye experience
- Experience Price:
- Cotton Handkerchief: 1200 yen
- Silk shawl: From 2300 yen
- You need to book at least 10 days in advance by contacting Yuyu Land Hanawa by phone. (Staff don’t speak English).
- See their website here.
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