Junikyo (十二橋) cruise & Iris gardens

Suigo Sawara Ayame Park
Photo by t.kunikuni

Itako twelve bridges boat cruise
Photo by Ibaraki Prefectural Government

Tone River (利根川) is the big river flowing through the center of Kanto Basin, and it forms the border between Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures.

There is a large Lake Kasumigaura (霞ヶ浦) and many rivers flow around the downstream basin of Tone River.

So this area is called Suigô (水郷, the land with water) in Japanese.

As the popular areas, there are Sawara district in Katori city in the side of Chiba Prefecture and Itako city in the side of Ibaraki Prefecture.

Sawara is located about 50 km northeast of Chiba city and about 70 km east-northeast of Tokyo.
And, Itako is located about 7 km northeast of the center of Sawara district.

Especially, the area near Hitachi-Tone River flowing to the north of Tone River is popular for the boat cruise and Japanese iris parks.
(Japanese iris is called Ayame in Japanese.)

There are two courses of the boat cruise, and both have the course that the boat passes under the twelve bridges.
So they are called Jûnikyô (十二橋) meaning twelve bridges. ("û" and "ô" are long vowels of "u" and "o".)

And both areas have Japanese iris gardens.

There are more than a million Japanese irises in these gardens, so we can see the white or purple flowers from late May to June.
In this period, Suigo-Itako Ayame Festival in Itako and Ayame Festival in Sawara are held here.

It has many events such as the shows of the folk music and dance, and the fair of iris.

Lotus flowers in Suigo Sawara Ayame Park
Photo by Katori City

Yomeiribune in Itako
Photo by Ibaraki Prefectural Governmen

Especially, most attractive event is "Yomeiribune" ("Bridal boat" in English).

Since old period, the people in this area had passed through the canals by boat as the community road.
Then, the bride also had married into the groom's family by boat.
This had been rare in the country.

In 1960, a popular song of this bridal boat became a big hit, then this custom had become known all over Japan.

Times are changing, so the custom has gone today.
Then these festivals revived the custom, and have been the main event of the festivals.

Of course, the bride boardind the boat is real, and it is one of the events in her wedding ceremony.
All visitors congratulate her there.

Suigo Sawara Ayame Park & Katôzu Juunikyô

Suigo Sawara Ayame Park
Photo by Chiba Prefecture

Katozu twelve bridges cruise

Suigo Sawara Ayame Park (水郷佐原あやめパーク) is located about 5 km north-northeast of central Sawara district in Katori city.

It is in the wide field between Tone River and Hitachi-Tone River, and is at the west end of long Lake Yodaura.

The park is about 400 meters north to south and about 150 meters east to west.

Half of the park is the garden of Japanese iris and there are about 1.5 million irises.
The best season is from late May to late June, and Ayame Festival is held in this period.

There are some waterways in the iris garden and the boat cruise is held from April to October.

Katôzu (加藤洲) is a village located about 2 km east of Suigo Sawara Ayame Park.
It is along a narrow waterway connecting Lake Yodaura and Hitachi-Tone River.

Especially, the north part is the central area of the village, and small twelve bridges cross over the waterway.

From Suigo Sawara Ayame Park and Itako side of Hitachi-Tone River, small boat cruise by boatwoman is operated.
The cruising time is 30 to 70 minutes.

Welcome to Sawara

Suigo Itako Ayame Garden & Maekawa Juunikyô

Suigo Itako Ayame Garden
Photo by Ibaraki Prefectural Governmen

Bride in Suigo Itako Ayame Garden
Photo by Ibaraki Prefectural Governmen

Suigo Itako Ayame Garden (水郷潮来あやめ園) is located about 5 km north-northeast of central Sawara district in Katori city.

Itako is a city located at the southeast part of Ibaraki Prefecture.
The central area of the city faces Hitachi-Tone River.

Maekawa River flows through the area and into Hitachi-Tone River.

There is Suigo Itako Ayame Garden (水郷潮来あやめ園) near the mouth of Maekawa River.
It is about 200 meters from JR Itako station.

The garden is on the riverside of along Maekawa River for about 400 meters.

From near the mouth of Maekawa River, the boat cruise starts.
Maekawa River also has twelve bridges, and the boat cruise is operated.
It visits Katôzu Jûnikyô.

How to get here

To Suigo Sawara Ayame Park

By Sawara Loop Bus, about 40 minutes from JR Sawara station.
But it is operated only 4 times a day (Around, 9:00, 12:45, 15:00, 17:15).
And it is operated only on weekday.

During Ayame Festival (from late May to late June), shuttle buses are operated from JR Sawara station.
It is operated one or two times an hour, and iIt takes about 25 minutes to the park.

To Suigo Sawara Ayame Park

About 200 meters walk from JR Itako station.
About 12 minutes from Sawara to Itako by the train of JR Kashima Line.
Most trains starts from Sawara.

Hotels around Katori city

Hotels around Katori city

Other Tourist Attractions in Chiba Prefecture

Tokyo Disney Resort Naritasan Shinshoji temple Sawara Choshi Umi-hotaru Yoro Ravine Nomizo Falls Mount Nokogiri South Boso Kamogawa & Katsuura

Other Tourist Attractions in Ibaraki Prefecture

Kashima Shrine Ushiku Daibutsu Mount Tsukuba Mito Oarai Isosaki Shrine Hitachi Seaside Park Fukuroda Falls

Return to Chiba Prefecture Return to Ibaraki Prefecture Return to Kanto Region