Wake is a mid-sized town with a population of 15,000 which is located in southeastern Okayama Prefecture. The natural world is the order of the day as the town has a well-cared for environment. The best way to describe Wake’s appeal is through its calendar of events.
In spring, like many parts of Japan, cherry blossoms are in full bloom and can be viewed at Houran-en garden which has over 400 trees. In late April to mid-May, the Wisteria Park takes front stage when the largest wisteria park in Japan goes into full bloom. The park, which opened in 1985, features 100 varieties of wisteria including purple, lavender, pink, and white flowering vines.
In summer, the “wamojiyaki event is held on August 16th of every year. At this event, which is part of the town’s summer festival, the Chinese character “wa” represents the “wa” in “Wake” is burned into the mountainside; the character also means ‘peace’. A firework display is held after the burning. Late August also brings the Apple festival which is held in Apple Park. People gather on the meadow and enjoy apple treats at the source. The park is complete with a wooden windmill adding to its charm. The park boasts 1050 trees of 14 varieties of apples; apple picking at the park starts at the end of August and goes on through the end of October.
The Crane festival is the hallmark of October and is held at the Okayama Prefecture Nature Preservation Center. Food and drink is available as people delight in watching the majestic red-crowned Japanese cranes; the festivals also has special events and stage shows. The Center is also home to many other natural beauties, including kingfishers, wild ducks, pygmy woodpeckers, Eurasian jays, and a variety of fish, insects, forest and water plants.
In autumn, November welcomes the momiji or “maple leaf festival” when over 900 trees along the ‘Poet’s Walk’, located on the mountain near the Wisteria Park, show their fall colors. Of course there are food stalls and performances. Also in November is the Town “Furusato” Festival, held at Wake Dome, which highlights the people and special products of the town; games and activities are also on offer.
For year-round enjoyment, try the Katatetsu Roman Kaido cycling road, an old rail line that was converted to a biking course in 2003. Cycles may be rented at JR Wake Station and Ukaidani Transporation Park next to Wake Dome. The 34km course runs between the Yanahara district of Misaki Town and the Katakami district of Bizen City. The course runs alongside the beautiful Yoshii river and green mountains. Additionally, Ukaidani Onsen hot spring features a natural hot spring, an indoor heated pool, tennis courts, and lodging.
Wake Town is a wonderful place for a day trip or an overnight stay. Enjoy Wake!