Crowds flock to flower festival at Huis Ten Bosch

Kyodo, Staff Report

Huis Ten Bosch, the Dutch-style resort and theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, is busier than ever as its annual tulip festival — one of the biggest of its kind in Japan — approaches its peak.

This year, the resort, which has seen a surge in both Japanese and foreign visitors in recent years, has 650 varieties on display, its most ambitious show yet.

The flowers will be in full bloom between mid-March and early April.

Huis Ten Bosch, which translates roughly as “House in the Forest,” is a 152-hectare residential-style resort built in March 1992 to mark the shared history and bilateral relations between Japan and the Netherlands dating back to 1600.

Among its facilities, the resort features a replica of the residence of the Dutch royal family in the Hague, built with special permission from the family and named “Palace Huis Ten Bosch” after the Dutch residence.

Despite its high profile, the resort suffered through years of financial struggles. Its operator filed for court protection from creditors in 2003, effectively going under.

However, about 1½ years after major travel agency H.I.S. Co. took over management in 2010, the resort posted a profit for the first time in its history by having creditors agree to debt forgiveness, staging large-scale events and opening part of the facility to other businesses.

For the business year through the end of last September, the number of visitors stood at 748,000, up 13.1 percent from the previous year.

Every year, colorful tulips in red, yellow and white on “Flower Road” greet visitors at the entrance.

Organizers will provide visitors with opportunities to participate in various events in April, such as tulip picking and bouquet arrangement workshops.

Visitors can also enjoy other special events. “The Kingdom of Light,” the resort’s large-scale nightly illumination event, runs through April 6. The show features more than 10,000 lights, a skating rink with 3-D projection mapping and dance performances.