Living in Japan made me love flower festivals. I learned to stop and see the beauty in nature. One of the many flower festivals / blooms in Okinawa is the Lily Festival on Ie Island, which happens every April.
An excuse to go explore another island around Okinawa AND see beautiful flowers? I'm in!
On a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, a few girlfriends and I booked the ferry from Motubu Port over to Ie Island. The Ie Island Lily Festival coincides with Golden Week so it can be crowded (get there early!) and is usually held late April to early May. It's one of the earliest Lily Festivals in the whole country of Japan.
This was my first time taking a car on one of the ferries so it was a bit of an adventure getting our car loaded onto the ferry. As you know, the Japanese like to keep things organized and are a fan of reversing cars into spaces, which means we had to reverse our car onto the ferry. There were 3 long car rows at the bottom of the ferry and reversing the car that far in was a bit nerve wracking but they had spotters helping guide us. (thank goodness!) Once the car was safely into place, we went up top to enjoy the views of the ocean and surrounding islands for the short 30 minute ferry ride.
Because we reversed the car in, it was easy getting off the ferry. After a quick 10 minute drive to the north side of Ie Island, we were ready to enjoy the Lily Festival! Not only are there lots of beautiful flowers, but the whole park sits right on the edge of the northern coast, giving beautiful views of the surrounding blue ocean. There's also a variety of local shows and food booth options for lunch.
There are over 100 different lily varieties from around the world, and over 1 million lilies you get to view! The Japanese word for lily is "Yuri" which comes from the word "yuru", meaning to sway; similar to how a lily naturally does in the breeze. In Japan, lilies are known to have a high ornamental value and help describe a woman's beauty. There's a saying "She sits and stands a peony and walks a lily".
A majority of the fields are covered in the signature white Easter Lily but there are also tons of smaller rows of different colored lilies and varieties. The meanings of the lilies in Japan depend on their color. White lilies usually symbolize chastity and purity. Orange can depict revenge and/or hatred, spider lilies for sweetness, tiger lilies for fortune and wealth, and the Red Spider Lily means that you will never be reunited, or that someone has left and won't come back. (yikes!)
So what's the big deal about flowers in Japan? In Japan, seasons are a main theme and flowers are like mirrors to the seasons. Flower viewing also has ties to Buddhism. Appreciating the present moment is taught in Buddhism, and is heightened when one is in touch with nature (aka viewing flowers). When enjoying and viewing flowers, there's a spontaneity of beauty and peace which is also a central core of Buddhism. This is one of the many things I love about Japan and one of the things I've tried to take back with me to America - enjoying the present moment, and be in awe of nature and how it coincides with life (seasons).
There's a Japanese word, “Hanami”(花見) which is made from two words, “Hana” (花), which means flowers in Japanese, and the word “mi” (見), which means look or view in Japanese. Normally when people use the word "Hanami" they're going to see Sakura, the most popular type of flower viewing in Japan. (Check out my sakura posts here)
We took a card out of the Japanese playbook, and strolled around the festival, enjoying the beauty of nature (and lots of lilies!)
On our way out of the festival there were a few stands of local flowers. I got some beautiful sunflowers for a great price (only a few yen!). I couldn't wait to get these home and in a vase so I could admire them for the next few days :)
Check out the next blog for other activities we did on Ie Island after checking out the Lily Festival!
Until next time!
Follow in our Footsteps:
Ferry (Motubu Port)
5232 Sakimotobu, Motobu, Kunigami District
Okinawa 905-0225, Japan
Cost: 1,370 yen for adults, 690 yen for children
Departure times from Motubu Port to Ie: 9:00/11:00/15:00/17:00
(during festival 9:00/10:00/11:00/13:00/15:00/16:00/17:00/17:30/18:15)
Note - If you want to take a car, you have to make a reservation beforehand. During the festival the ferry leaves every hour back to the main island of Okinawa.
There's also a bus you can take that's right outside the ferry - 10 minute ride to the festival. (Cost 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for children (one way)) The last bus leaves from the festival at 3:30pm.
Ie Island Lily Festival
Ie Village Lily Field Park
Higashieue, Ie, Kunigami District,
Time: 10am - 5pm
Website (also has time table for the ferry)
This website also gives the status of the blooms and any upcoming performances: Here
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!