Ajisai-Yashiki: A Spectacular Hydrangea Garden in Chiba

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. Continue reading “Ajisai-Yashiki: A Spectacular Hydrangea Garden in Chiba”

June Colours in Kamakura

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 perfect circle
Entrance to the tea house
The famous ‘hydrangea stairway’

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!

A splash of colour surrounding the temples
Bank of hydrangeas
Sneak peak of the bay
Jizo statues in memory of deceased babies

Grab an Umbrella!


Rainy season
Sea of umbrellas in Harajuku

Either grab your umbrella, or jump under someone else’s, because the rains are here! After a HOT and HUMID couple of weeks, the rainy season officially started yesterday (June 5). And by the looks of it, we won’t be seeing the sun for a loooong time. The wet season lasts for a month or so, and although it technically isn’t supposed to rain every day, the current forecast says otherwise…

Rainy season
Yahoo Tokyo forecast Friday~Wednesday

One thing synonymous with the rainy season in Japan are hydrangea flowers. They bloom around June and have no problem toughing it out against the winds and rains. Their beautiful shades of blue, purple, and pink give colour to an otherwise grey and gloomy world. I think this is why they’re so popular here. Although, the Japanese go crazy over any and every flower really! If you’re in the country now, you’ll see many ajisai matsuri (hydrangea festivals) wherever you go!

Hydrangea Hydrangea Hydrangea Hydrangea