The famous pink forests of Ireland, the Netherlands and Japan? All Photoshopped. The pink geyser in Iceland? An eccentric artist with pink dye. That viral pink iceberg? Not even the algae it claimed to be. But there are some instances in which real travel holds its own against Photoshop… particularly when it comes to the colour pink.
Join us over the next five weeks, as we introduce you to some of the most remarkable pink places in the world. Next stop: Takinoue: Pink Park
Takinoue: Pink Park
These candyfloss-coloured hillsides in Japan might be manmade, but as they have spread over the past 60 years, they make a powerful spectacle.
Every year around May, after the blooms of Japan’s famous cherry trees fade, the hillsides of Takinoue Park in Hokkaido, the northernmost of the Japanese islands, become a spectacular carpet of mauve and pink. The blooms – mass-blooming moss phlox flowers, known locally as Shibazakura, which means ‘lawn cherry blossom‘ – cover about 100 000m2 of rolling hillside. Moss phlox is actually native to north America, but its resemblance to cherry blossom led to it’s being enthusiastically adopted in Japan.
Against the backdrop of the snow-tipped Daisetsuzan Mountain Range, the setting is dramatic. The sweet cent of the blossoms fills the air as you stroll along the paths that wind through the hillsides. Surrounding hillsides are covered in bright tulips, which are quite a sight in their own right. In fact, a day trip for flower-lovers to Takinoue Park should also take in nearby Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park.
The phenomenon reputedly began back in 1956 with a mandarin orange box containing 1000 seeds which were planted by volunteers from a youth group. Others have been adding new plants ever since until now there are an estimated 800 000.
The month in which the flowers bloom has become an opportunity for major tourist activity with people flocking to the city, a festival with markets and performances, helicopter flips and the like. Life in Takinoue is otherwise uneventful: the place is best known for supplying nearly all Japan’s mint, and for it turkeys! And if you drive by, the hills will be green.
Lake Hillier: The Pink Lake
As you fly over the Recherche Archipelago of the coast of Western Australia, a blob of bright Chappies pink stands out in the blue ocean
This might not be the only pink lake in the world (there’s Lake Esperance, also in Western Australia, and Lake Retba in Senegal), but, especially when seen form the air, it’s one of the most spectacular. It’s on the middle island of the archipelago separated from the sea by a narrow bar of sand and vegetation, so the vivid, almost unbelievable Wicks-bubblegum colour of the water is thrown into stark contrast against the adjacent blue.
It turns out no one can explain the 600m-long lake’s extraordinary colour. Most attempts to do so suggest it has something to do with the water’s high salt content, or something to do with particular species of algae or bacteria that lives in the salt-dense water.
It’s not an optical illusion though. Lake Hiller is pretty inaccessible – you can’t fly there – so chances are you won’t be able to set foot on the eucalyptus-lined island and take a sample in a glass of water, but if you were to do so, it would still have a pink tinge.
The lake is, however, easily viewed from a dedicated lookout point in Esperance, which is a day’s drive (or two-hour flight) from Perth. There are also flights and helicopter flips that take you over the archipelago – the colour is most vivid seen from above.
Keep an eye out for more fabulously pink places in the world.
Next up…. Takinoue: Pink Park.
Graham Wood has spent the past decade writing about South Africa’s most beautiful homes, and has been published widely at home and internationally. He lives in Johannesburg with his wife, daughter and her bulldog puppy. Her favourite colour is pink. (His daughter, not the bulldog… he doesn’t know what the bulldog’s favourite colour is.)