Kiku (chrysanthemums) are an art form in Japan. Enthusiasts carefully manipulate these plants and their flowers into amazing forms and display them for the enjoyment of all during late October and early November. The best displays in the area are without a doubt the "Kiku Matsuri" in Kasama, where 5000 of the large chrysanthemums will be displayed along with about 100 "chrysanthemums dolls", that is, varieties with many small flowers that have been shaped into human (and other) forms. The flowers will be on display at the Kasama Inari Shrine from Oct. 19 through November 24. If you go during the peak time of Nov. 1 to 4, you can also enjoy the "Takumi Matsuri" (Artisan's Festival), another festival going on at the same time featuring various "Kasama Yaki" pottery, etc. Kasama is one of the best known pottery towns in Japan, and as this is their specialty, it is a great time to visit.
It takes about one hour by car from Tsukuba, and the drive over Mt. Tsukuba, along the "Fruits Line" road past the "Flower Park" and then along the winding road over the 410 m. high pass leading into Kasama is quite nice anytime of year. The Kasama Inari Shrine is located in the center of town about halfway between the station and route 50. For those who want to see displays a little closer to home, there are always some nice specimens displayed at the Mt. Tsukuba Shrine, as well as at Matsumi Park and next to the Yatabe Branch City Hall.
For those considering going to see the chrysanthemums at the Kasama Inari Shrine, you might want to consider going on Saturday, October 26, when the "International Exchange Lecture" will be held. This free presentation of a slide show by photo artist Junichi Shimomura will be held in the assembly hall on the shrine grounds, and commentaries will be presented in both English and Spanish, in addition to, of course, Japanese.
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