I will write about Okususohana Nature Park at Kinasa (Kinasa, or 鬼無里, which literally means "no devil village") in Nagano prefecture with photos I took. The place is called "nature park" but actually it is not just a park but a mountain with total ecosystem. It is noted for about 810,000 "mizubasho" in the marshland surrounded by the 300 to 400 year-old Japanese beeches, Japanese horse chestnuts and others. Mizubasho are here and there along the running water and in the marshes.
"Mizubasho" is "Japanese skunk cabbage" in English according to a dictionary, but "marsh lilies" would be more suitable to their lovely white fairly-like images. Petals are not white parts but the tiny yellow parts around the green core. Oze is best known for "mizubasho" with a song Natsu no Omoide (Memory of Summer), while Kinasa is a bit off the beaten track in the heart of the mountains, but more and more people are visiting there recently during the season.
To be honest with you, there was something against my expectation regarding mizubasho. I imagined them flowering lovely gregariously like in the advertisement posters. Mizubasho start flowering at the thawing of the snow, but this year's abnormal weather, which alternated winter-like cold and summer-like hot, has made some mizubasho looked miserable. Actually when I visited there two days ago, it was very hot but I heard it had snowed a week before. Maybe mizubasho were torn between hot and cold?
I was to go through virgin forests of beeches to the top of Mt. Nakanishi, but the path was closed halfway due to snow which was still left. In the forests, birds were chirping; I could recognize woodpeckers and bush warblers, my husband "hoojiro" or Japanese bunting. There were butterbur sprouts, field horsetail shoots ("tsukushi" in Japanese), "miyamasumire", "nirinso", and so on. Beech trees have just started budding leaves, and the earlier ones have lovely translucent green leaves. In early summer when leaves have grown, they will make comfortable shades.
When I saw mountain cherry blossoms, オオヤマザクラ, I thought they were still lingering around, but I found out they had just started blooming judging from the brown (or purplish red) color of budding leaves.
It is said the flowering of mizubasho tells the late arrival of spring in Kinasa. Spring is sprung there now!