Today, I want to showcase a different side of Hiroshima than most people envision when they think of the prefecture. While the likes of the Atomic Bomb Dome and Miyajima are indeed great (and I do encourage first-timers to Japan to visit them), the truth is that there is simply so much more to Hiroshima than just these now-overcrowded mainstays. Alas, few people ever make it to these off of the beaten path destinations in Hiroshima. Personally, I attribute this to a lack of awareness because, speaking frankly, there are a hell of a lot of locations in the prefecture that warrant one’s time.
So, on that note, let’s take a look at the highlands of Sera Kogen, the topic of this article. Found high up in the hills on the eastern side of Hiroshima Prefecture, Sera Kogen has a storied history that dates back to the Heian period (794–1185). Known as one of the top “agricultural treasures” in western Japan, this part of the prefecture produces some excellent quality produce. Thanks to the plateau’s climate, Sera Kogen is able to produce amazing rice, beef, pork, asparagus, and sweet corn. Moreover, as we’ll see later, this part of Hiroshima is also truly blessed with seasonal beauty too.
All things considered, Sera Kogen is definitely worth adding to your bucket list. Especially for my fellow content creators out there, you can really get some great shots for the Gram here. Moreover, the top-tier produce is also something that ought to draw the foodies out there too. While you’ll need to find a way to overcome the less-than-favorable logistics, a trip to Sera Kogen is bound to be one of the highlights of your time in Hiroshima Prefecture.
How to Get There
As I just alluded to, easy access to the allures of Sera Kogen is sadly lacking. In fact, you’re going to want to have your own set of wheels if you’re going to venture into this hilly part of Hiroshima. While it looks like there are some highway buses that depart from both Hiroshima City and Onomichi, you’re doing yourself a disservice by trying to do Sera Kogen without a rental car. At the end of the day, there are just too many other places in Japan that are more easily accessible via public transportation to justify all of the logistical headaches.
Of course, you’re first going to need to get yourself down to Hiroshima to begin with. Normally, I would suggest that you take the bullet train down as flying is usually quite inconvenient due to the odd location of Hiroshima Airport. In the case of Sera Kogen, the strange site of the airport up in the nearby mountains is actually a bit of a boon. Basically, you can fly down from Tokyo or wherever and snag yourself a rental car at one of the several vendors that operate out of the Hiroshima Airport.
Still, if you’d prefer to milk your Japan Rail Pass for all that it’s worth (something that is now needed to make it cost-effective), you can take the Sanyo Shinkansen down to Fukuyama Station. From there, you’ll want to get your hands on an automobile and then make your way west to Sera Kogen via the Sanyo Expressway. Given that you’ll be flying solo, you’ll want to use a service like Google Maps to guide you so do some digging first for the addresses.
By the way, here’s a little factoid — Sera Kogen is actually home to some of the top runners in all of Japan. This is due to the extremely hilly terrain. While you’re driving about, keep your eyes out so that you don’t run over some poor soul who is just trying to train for his or her next race…
Spectacular Sera Kogen Farm
When it comes to Sera Kogen, the main reason one would want to visit is its flower garden collection. Simply put, the offerings here can rival some of the best flower fields in all of Japan, including the fabled Hitachi Seaside Park. Of the quartet of locations on the list, Sera Kogen Farm definitely takes the championship title as best of the lot. Host to a staggering variety of flora, Sera Kogen Farm also boasts a restaurant where you can feast on locally sourced BBQ as well as a cafe with various blends of herbal tea.
Throughout the year, there are a number of windows where you’ll want to consider coming out to Sera Kogen Farm. In the spring, you’ll be greeted with some epic views of weeping cherry blossoms followed by the flowering of over 750,000 tulips in early May. Thereafter in August, the grounds turn bright yellow for the sunflower festival. While visitors will need to brave the summer heat to see them, this event highlights over 1.1 million sunflowers that are planted all over the grounds of Sera Kogen Farm.
In my case, my trip to Sera Kogen Farm was in early autumn and just happened to coincide with their annual dahlia festival. These bushy flowers are native to Mexico and blossom around the middle of September. Their season also coincides with garden mums meaning that you can enjoy this pair of pretties if you head to the lush hills of Hiroshima’s Sera Kogen anywhere from the very late summer to the middle of fall.
Lastly, know that Sera Kogen Farm also has an annual daikon celebration too. This occurs during the final weekend of October on one of the location’s many farms. Seeing as the daikon is a cult symbol for our love of Japan, this is required viewing for all of the faithful who happen to be somewhere in Hiroshima during the 10th month of the year.
More Than One Flower Garden
As noted above, Sera Kogen is home to more than one spot to behold the splendor of Mother Nature. To make things easier for you, the reader, I am going to list these out one by one below along with when you would want to consider going. As always, I’ll provide a link to a Google Map to help you figure out where all of these places are…
- Flower Village Kamu-no-Sato
These days, Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture has become the de facto destination for the azure nemophila. Little do the legions of flower seekers know that these blue beauties can also be had at Sera Kogen’s Flower Village Kamu-no-Sato. What’s more, their annual window also overlaps with the moss phlox meaning you can double down on your spring flower viewing. Later on in early summer, this spot also has some heavenly hydrangeas and hollyhocks to enjoy as well.
- Sera Kogen Flower Forest
Calling all fans of roses. If these flowers are your shtick, you’ll definitely want to plan on visiting Sera Kogen Flower Forest. In June and then again in the autumn, the grounds give birth to some wonderful English roses. Thereafter in November and December, there is also an evening candle night illumination event that will leave you breathless too.
- Sera Wisteria Garden
As the name gives away, this one is home to some wonderfully enchanting wisteria. While otherwise unassuming throughout the rest of the year, Sera Wisteria Garden transforms into a regal wonderland during the first weeks of May when the purple flowers are at their best.
I hope you can see why more people ought to be hyped for the flowers of Sera Kogen. Simply put, the perennial pulchritudes that people chase all across the countryside for are all gathered here. Rather than rush to and from the likes of Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi to Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki, you can see cherry blossoms, nemophila, sunflowers, and more all here at Hiroshima’s Sera Kogen.
Sera Kogen Winery
Since you’re going to have a rental car at the ready, I also suggest that you stop by Sera Kogen Winery while exploring the highlands. Found not too far away from Sera Kogen Farm and the rest of the flower gardens up here, this locale sells all sorts of regionally sourced goods — wine included. Should you elect to swing by, I suggest you give one of the Sera Burgers a try. Made from a concoction of local produce, these hamburgers were made as a means of promoting meat and veggies produced in Sera Kogen.
Note that no visit to Sera Kogen Winery would be complete without doing a lap around the property on the miniature model SL train. Amazingly running on the very same physics that propel actual steam-powered trains, this locomotive is the real-life equivalent of the little engine that could. Despite its meager stature, it is more than capable of pulling fully grown adults around the premises. Especially for those of you with small children, this activity is not one to miss!
Other Nearby Attractions
If you’re going to go to Sera Kogen Farm and the other collections of flower gardens up in these hilly highlands, you need to do yourself a favor and also swing by some of Hiroshima’s other eastern spots. Directly to the south, you’ll find the likes of Onomichi and Fukuyama. I’ve written about all of these spots before so to keep this article from getting any longer than it needs to be, I’ll simply link you to my prior work below.
- Hiroshima’s Onomichi
More than Just the Shimanami Kaido
- Takehara City
The “Little Kyoto” of Hiroshima Prefecture
- Hiroshima’s Okunoshima
Exploring the “Rabbit Island”
- Hiroshima’s Tomonoura
A Port Town on the Seto Inland Sea
- Osaki Kamishima
Backyard Tourism Vol. 13
Of course, if you haven’t already, the myriad of attractions in Hiroshima City and on the island of Miyajima are also worth visiting. That said, I imagine many of you have already made the rounds to these mainstream locations. So, should you ever go to Sera Kogen, you’d be wise to also check out some of the many allures in the eastern half of the prefecture.
Until next time travelers…