Nabana No Sato, Nagoya, Japan

As a child I was literally obsessed with the Secret Garden, both the book and the movie. I never got bored of reading or watching it and wanted to find my secret garden. Too bad this one can’t be mine. It joins pretty well my two passions: gardens and Christmas markets.

So what is Nabana no Sato?

It’s a garden taken straight from fairy tales. It’s huge and has something to offer every season of the year. When we went there, the plum and cherry blossom was just over but we saw fields of tulips that were just remarkable. They really reminded us of Holland.

The most unforgettable moment was when we walked into the Begonia Garden. We actually entered it through the exit and the first thing we saw was a stunning pond with flowers floating in a circle and chains of begonia hanging from the ceiling. I literally screamed from all the joy and enthusiasm. It was like a Secret Garden from my dreams filled with colors and hidden from greedy eyes. I guess because of its location Nabana no Sato is not particularly busy on a weekday… Which tourist heard of Nagoya? Very few and even fewer would go even further to get to the garden. But it’s worth all the energy.

Except for the flowers…

It’s one of very few places where Christmas lasts for half a year. From October to May there is an amazing Winter Illumination which leaves many Christmas markets in Europe far, far behind. There are two long tunnels of little lamps, light performances and even mulled wine to complete the whole experience. It wouldn’t be Japan if there wasn’t a selection of food to go with it. There are a few restaurants as well as food stands in the park.

The only drawback is…

As usual in Japan… the price. The entrance costs 2300 yen that's including a 1000 yen voucher that you can spend in one of the shops and restaurants. Unfortunately you can’t buy the entrance without the voucher… Begonia Garden, onsite onsen and Mount Fuji-like observation platform are charged extra… The last one spoils the view quite considerable, I’m still wondering how come stylish Japanese came up with a kitsch idea like that.

Still, I would say Nabana no Sato is worth the price. And that’s coming from a lady on a rather backpacking budget:)

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