Numata City is a city located in northern Gunma Prefecture. The kanji for Numata (沼田) loosely translates to boggy field, but that is not what you will find there. From mid-July until mid-August a brilliant carpet of purple lavender covers the slopes of Tambara which is reputed to have the largest lavender park in the Kanto Region. This being Gunma, the highlands of Tambara are famous for skiing during the winter months but the summer months are punctuated by over 50,000 flowering lavender bushes and various types of Alpine and other multi-colored plants which form the Irodori no oka, the six-colored flower carpet fields.
The view is particularly spectacular from above and visitors to the park can board the ski lift to view the magnificent murasaki (purple) carpet from this vantage point. Just be aware that the ski lift stops operating a half hour before the park is scheduled to close. There is a fee to ride the ski lift, it is ¥800 for adults (roundtrip) and ¥600 for elementary school students. A one way trip will cost ¥500 for adults and ¥350 for elementary school students.
Stop at the gift shop and you will find everything from lavender scented soaps to dried lavender bouquets. Near the entrance area, there is an herb shop and lavender museum. Lavender seedlings, potted flowers and herbs can be purchased here.
There are two restaurants on site if you get hungry. The ハイランドガーデン (Highland Garden) serves pizza, burgers and the popular lavender flavored soft-serve ice cream. If you are really daring or truly hungry, try the towering Tambara King Burger. Theレストハウス (Rest house) is a western style restaurant offering a variety of family style dishes including steaks and katsu sandwiches. There is also a soba and udon restaurant within the Rest House serving the traditional Japanese noodle bowls. If you do not have the time to stop off at the restaurants, you can still enjoy the lavender flavored ice cream which can be purchased from a stand located at the entrance area.
A visit to Tambara’s fragrant lavender fields is a soothing way to cool down during Tokyo’s scorching summers. The park is open from late June to late August between the hours of 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. Parking is free and can accommodate 1,500 cars. There is an admission charge of ¥1,000 (elementary school students and younger children are admitted free).
The best way to access the park is via the JR Joetsu Line, exit at Numata Station. From there you can board a bus or hire a taxi.
Tambara Park Web Page: http://www.tambara.co.jp/lavenderpark/
Web page: http://www.city.numata.gunma.jp/