With sakura season done in the Tokyo area, it’s time to switch from pink to blue and the 4.5 million Nemophila flowers of this amazing park.

This year, some unusually warm spring weather shifted the start of cherry blossom season up about two weeks earlier than usual. Because of that, the sakura re now gone from Japan’s eastern Kanto region (which includes Tokyo), but if you’re feeling blue about that, there’s an amazing azure pick-me-up waiting for nature lovers in Hitachi Seaside Park.

As you’d guess from the name, Hitachi Seaside Park is located on the coast of the city of Hitachi, in Ibaraki Prefecture. Ibaraki s one of those parts of Japan that foreign travelers often pass straight through as they make their way from Tokyo up to the northeastern Tohoku region, but Hitachi Seaside Park is definitely worth making a detour for, especially if the Nemophila, or baby blue eye, flowers are in bloom, like they are right now.

The sprawling park’s Miharashi no Oka (“Lookout Hill”) covers an area of 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres), and in turn is covered with roughly 4.5 million flowers. When their petals open, the landscape transforms into rolling waves of blue that seem to merge earth and sky.

▼ We visited the park last year, and only managed to convince ourselves to come back down to the Tokyo area once the facility closed at sundown.

Ordinarily, Hitachi SeasidePark’s Nemophila reach full bloom right around Golden Week, the early-May string of holidays when just about every student and working adult in Japan has time off. That means that as you’re admiring the view, you have to share the hill with some pretty large crowds. This year, though, the warm weather caused the flowers to blossom early, and they’re currently at about 70-percent bloom, with the best viewing conditions expected before the Golden Week travel rush.

▼ The park also features some lovely tulip beds.

While Ibaraki is two prefecture over from Tokyo (with Saitama separating them), Hitachi Seaside Park is actually a doable day trip from the capital. Express trains will get you from Tokyo Station to Katsuta (the nearest rail stop to the park) in just a little more than an hour, and from Katsuta Station it’s only another 20 minutes by bus to the park’s entrance.

So if you’re looking to experience some unforgettable scenery, and with the added bonus of smaller crowds than you’d usually have to put up with, you know where to head. And should your schedule be all booked up for the next coming weeks, don’t forget that Hitachi Seaside Park also looks incredible in the fall, when those same hills turn an amazing shade of crimson.

Related: Hitachi Seaside Park, directions
Top image: Hitachi Seaside Park
Insert images: Hitachi Seaside Park, SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where his wanderlust is rising.

[ Read in Japanese ]