The rainy season in Tokyo typically kicks off in the first week of June, bringing about 20 days of rain in one month. The humidity is a killer but along with the rain, comes one of my favourite flowers: hydrangeas!
Last year, I went on a massive hydrangea hunt around Tokyo. The highlight was a little place in the middle of nowhere that I found advertised on a local Japanese website. The pictures looked stunning, and even though it seemed like a mission to get there, I had to see it for myself. So, I took a friend with me and headed east!
From my area near Shibuya, it took about 1 hour 45 min by train to get to Mobara Station in Chiba Prefecture. From there, we needed to catch a taxi south to our destination, the Hattori Farm Hydrangea House.
As the taxi drove down the road, I couldn’t help but notice lots of rundown buildings—a sign of depopulation/aging population. The shops around the station area quickly faded away and were replaced with bigger houses you only see in the countryside where there is more space. And then even the houses disappeared, leaving just farmland and forest. I had that feeling of uncertainty mixed with excitement, like ‘where on earth are we going?!’ After a few more minutes, the driver suddenly slowed to turn off. We looked out the window, and there it was. The Hydrangea House!
Even from the road, the garden was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn’t wait to go in. We paid the entrance fee, resisted the temptation to buy all the fresh produce and goodies on sale, and headed into the garden. Winding paths and stairs took us all around the hillside behind the house. Because of the height of the plants, you couldn’t see where the paths lead, so it was like being in a maze. Though the views from the base at the house and the top along the forest were great, I loved seeing the garden from the sides where you could really get a sense of just how big this place was.
While some sections of the garden look like the flowers have been planted at random, when you look closely, you notice amazing gradations of colour – dark pink to light pink to white to pale blue to dark blue to purple. I learned the garden has over 10,000 shrubs and 300 different varieties of hydrangea. And here I was thinking there was just a bubble-shaped hydrangea and crown-shaped hydrangea! One new variety I came across looked like the petals were stars with five pointed tips!
We had a great time at this place, and the remoteness possibly made it even more enjoyable as there weren’t bucket loads of tourists. Though, it did seem like a strange place to have a tourist attraction. There is absolutely nothing else to do or see around here… unless you happen to own a rice field. Initially I thought that this hydrangea-filled property may have been created as a way to get people to come to the area, but actually I think it was just the case of an old man who had a love of hydrangeas, planted a whole bunch behind his house and realized (or was told) it was something people were interested in—and were willing to pay to see! Whatever the reason, I’m glad it exists and am excited to share these photos with you all.