Japan’s Wisteria Tunnels Are Some of the Most Magical Places on Earth

The Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka, Japan
The Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka, Japan
iStock.com/Biscut

Japan’s cherry blossoms tend to steal the spotlight, but its wisteria vines are no less enchanting. As Travel + Leisure points out, there are a number of magical places around the country to see these flowering plants in all their glory.

Contrary to popular belief, not all wisteria plants are purple. Different varieties display different colors, which may include pale blue, pink, white, and yellow petals. Some of these hues are on display at Japan’s Ashikaga Flower Park, which has a wisteria ceiling that visitors can walk beneath. It’s home to more than 350 wisteria trees, as well as the oldest known wisteria plant in Japan (it's more than 140 years old).

Located north of Tokyo in Tochigi Prefecture, the park is open year-round, but the wisteria begin to bloom from mid-April to mid-May, depending on the variety. In some cases, the fuji season (as it’s known in Japanese) may coincide with the blooming of the sakura (cherry blossoms). A wisteria festival runs from April 13 to May 19, but if you can’t make it to Japan, you can check out the website to see what the garden looks like.

Traveling south, the Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Kitakyushu—the northermost city of Kyushu Island—is another must-see wisteria destination. The garden’s two 330-foot wisteria tunnels boast 22 different varieties of the plant.

Other popular wisteria destinations throughout Japan include Tennogawa Park in Tsushima, Shirai Omachi Fuji Park in Asago, Tokyo’s Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Byodoin Temple in Kyoto Prefecture, and Koenji Temple in Ichikawa. The Kamitoba Sewage Treatment Plant in Kyoto is also an unexpectedly pleasant place to view the flowering trees.

Check out some of the stunning wisteria photos below for some travel inspiration.

A wisteria garden
The Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture
Raymond Ling, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A wisteria garden
Koenji temple in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture
t.kunikuni, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A wisteria tunnel
The Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka, Japan
inazakira, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A park with wisteria in bloom
Senkoji Park in Hiroshima
iStock.com/Navapon_Plodprong

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The Isle of Sark Needs a New Dairy Farmer, But You'll Have to Bring Your Own Cows

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images
Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

If you've ever dreamed of moving to a secluded island to become a farmer, the Isle of Sark is giving you the opportunity. Sark, located in England's Channel Islands, is seeking a dairy farmer to supply milk to the island's population of 500. The only catch is that job candidates must be ready to move there with their own herd of 25 to 35 cows, Atlas Obscura reports.

Sark is a 3-mile long, mile-and-a-half wide island with green pastures, rocky cliffs, and no cars or street lamps. The only way to get there is by boat or one of the ferries that leaves from the nearby Jersey and Guernsey islands.

The last time the island had a dairy farmer was 2017. That year, farmer Christopher Nightingale shut down his business due to issues with costs and land instability. The Isle of Sark held onto feudalism long after the rest of Europe abandoned it, and though the practice technically ended in 2008, it hasn't died completely. Sometimes this works to the community's advantage, like when Nazis invaded in 1940, but it also means that farmers must lease their land for short periods rather than own it.

If you're willing to trade your right to own property for idyllic island living, Sark's dairy farmer gig maybe the perfect fit for you. The island is looking for someone, or a couple, with lots of dairy farming experience, and a herd of Jersey or Guernsey cows, which are native to the Channel Islands. You can reach out to Caragh Couldridge at info@caraghchocolates.com for information on how to apply.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Finland's New Tourism Campaign Wants to Show You Why It's the Happiest Country in the World

Visit Finland
Visit Finland

Finland has been named the happiest country on Earth for the second year in a row, according to the United Nations World Happiness Report for 2019. Recent government and health care reform issues notwithstanding, the Nordic nation has a lot to be pleased about, including a high GDP, strong school system, and long life spans.

Finns are eager to share the keys to their contentedness with the rest of the world. That’s why the country’s travel promotion organization, Visit Finland, is hosting a contest to bring international guests to Finland for a three-day tour this summer.

Dubbed “Rent a Finn,” the initiative will set guests up with a local host family in Helsinki, Lapland, Lakeland, or another part of the country. One guest will stay with Linda and Niko, a couple who live with their chihuahua, Helmi, on a Finnish island in the Baltic Sea. Another will stay with Esko, the mayor of Rovaniemi, which bills itself as “the hometown of Santa Claus.”

These “Happiness Guides” will help visitors connect to nature—one of the ways that Finns relieve stress. To apply, just film a short video introducing yourself and explaining your connection to nature and why you want to visit Finland. You can apply as an individual or as a group with friends or family. Then fill out an online application, upload your video, and submit it before the April 21 deadline.

Eight applicants (plus their friends and family) will be selected for the trip, with the cost of travel and accommodation covered. Guests who want to extend their stay are welcome to do so, but it would be at their own expense.

According to Visit Finland, there have been four times as many applicants from the U.S. than any other country. This isn’t entirely surprising, considering that the U.S. ranked 19th in the World Happiness Report—down five spots from 2017.

You don’t necessarily have to travel to Finland to improve your outlook on life, though. Here are 23 science-backed ways to feel happier without boarding a plane.

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