Colourful. Magical. Plentiful. Wonderful!
The hydrangeas are in full bloom. Brace yourselves for a flower overload!
I couldn’t think of a better place than Kamakura to enjoy this beautiful feast for the eyes. The seaside town, about an hour from Tokyo, is home to loads of temples, hiking trails, nature… oh, and a 13th century, 13m high Great Buddha statue. Minor detail! :-P
My recent trip to Kamakura was not to see Buddha, although I have before, but to visit two temples in particular. One was Meigetsu-in, also called Ajisai-dera (hydrangea temple). The other was Hase-dera, probably the most popular temple complex in Kamakura.
Meigetsu-in is about a 10 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station. It is famous for its perfect round window, an impressive hydrangea garden, as well as an ‘inner garden’ which is only open to visitors twice a year – in June and November. Lucky me, I got to enter this exclusive area and enjoy walking around the immaculately kept lawns, iris garden, and small moss-covered woods. It was really elegant and peaceful, and definitely worth the extra entrance fee. The main garden also has an admission fee, but is much more crowded than the inner garden. People flock here to see the hydrangea avenue, a stairway which is surrounded either side by a mass of flowers. It’s a challenge to get a photo with no one on the stairs, but if you’re lucky enough (and you go on a quiet weekday!) then you just might get 10 seconds to quickly snap a couple of non-obstructed pics.
A few trains stops, or an hour’s walk away, is Hase-dera. It’s a temple on the side of a hill, just a few hundred metres away from the seashore. From the top of the hill you get a refreshing view of Sagami Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, like most beaches in Japan, the sand is not soft and white, but rather, black and fairly uninviting! The sea hawks constantly flying above are also a bit of a turn-off! It’s a good thing there’s plenty other good reasons to go to Hase. The temple is home to more than 40 varieties of hydrangeas, and about 2500 actual hydrangea shrubs. Talk about overload! But it’s so nice just to walk around the hillside and admire the stunning colours, shapes and patterns of this celebrated flower. Kamakura is a fantastic day trip from Tokyo any time of the year, but especially during the rainy season!