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Sean's Japan Travel Journal
by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura

Purple hydrangea

Let's take this opportunity to wish all fathers a belated Happy Father's Day. Today we made a trip to Kamakura to check out the hydrangea. Hydrangea are called Ajisai in Japanese, and they remind most Japanese people of the rainy season, around the month of June. This is because hydrangea bloom at about the same time, and the flowers grow deeper in color as rain water falls on them through this period.

Flowers in round bunches are sterile; those in the center of flat bunches, such as these, are fertile

Tokeiji Temple

Our first stop was at Tokeiji Temple, also nicknamed the "Divorce Temple": in the past, women in Japan were not allowed to initiate a divorce from their husbands. The temple served as a sanctuary for such women and there was a rule that if a woman stayed at Tokeiji for three years, her marriage could be annulled.

Since the late 19th century however, with new women rights written into law, such a function of the temple is no longer necessary. Today many women were here, not to escape from their husbands, but to appreciate the beautiful hydrangea in full bloom. The flowers blossomed in plump, chubby, rounded bunches, of different colors as white, pink, purple and blue.

Entrance to Tokeiji
Many people were taking pictures of these Iwatabako (Rock Tobacco), growing on the walls.
White hydrangea

Meigetsuin

Meigetsuin is known for its temple grounds and garden which have different seasonal flowers on display all year round. At this time of the year, the main flowers in bloom are hydrangea and irises. 95% of the hydrangea here are "Hime Ajisai", which means "Princess Hydrangea" in English. They were thus named because of their sweet colors: being light blue at first, the pretty bunches brighten and then become more intense in color with each occurrence of rain till they become violet-blue, and later dark blue.

On this visit, I found out why Meigetsuin is also known as "Ajisaidera", meaning "Hydrangea Temple": they were everywhere! The several paths of the temple, especially that of the stone steps leading to the temple's main buildings, were so fully lined with Princess Hydrangea (as well as people), that on many occasions I had to apologetically brush my shoulders against them - as gently as possible lest I should cause any distress to her royal highnesses.

A separate fee is required to enter the inner garden, whereby irises can be viewed currently.

Meigetsuin
Path leading to the temple buildings
Moss on the hills
Lady shows affection to Jizo bodhisattva
Irises at the inner garden

Hasedera Temple

We hiked through Genjiyama Park

We took a hiking course through the woods to get to Hasedera Temple, one of the most visited temples in Kamakura. The temple houses a huge statue of Kannon the goddess of mercy, and has an observation platform from which good views of the city of Kamakura can be seen. At this time of the year, it also becomes a popular spot to view hydrangea.

It was more popular than we had expected. We arrived at the temple at about two and found it to be flooded by armies of visitors. Looking up the hill behind the temple buildings, where the hydrangea are planted, I could see a long queue which stretched upwards till it faded from view in the midst of the plants and the trees.

There was a system of lining up, whereby numbers were issued to visitors, indicating how long they would have to expect to wait. Regrettably, we didn't have the estimated 75 minutes to spare, and had to leave without going up the hill. Judging by the number of hydrangea there were at the bottom of the hill, and by the number of people who were willing to queue to go up, I think it might well be worth the time should you be interested to visit and have an hour or two to spare.

View of the city from Hasedera
People shelter from the heat and cool off under the mist showers
Group 296 has 75 minutes to wait
Queue stretching up the hill

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2014/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2014/04/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takato
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2014/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/06 - Shopping around Northern Osaka
2014/01/23 - Nikko in Winter

2013/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/06 - Kamakura Report
2013/11/26 - Tokyo Report
2013/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/21 - Miyajima Report
2013/11/19 - Korankei Report
2013/11/18 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/11 - Sakurayama Report
2013/11/08 - Karuizawa Report
2013/10/29 - Nikko Report
2013/10/18 - Nasu Report
2013/10/17 - Nikko Report
2013/10/14 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/10/10 - Oze Report
2013/09/27 - Alpine Route Report
2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013
2013/08/07 - Exploring Tokyo 2: Around the Tokyo Imperial Palace
2013/05/20 - Tottori Sand Museum 2013
2013/05/07 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2013/05/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2013/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2013/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takayama
2013/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumoto
2013/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2013/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/31 - Visiting Shodoshima for the Setouchi Triennale 2013
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2013/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Early Cherry Blossom Report
2013/02/17 - Tokamachi Snow Festival
2013/02/16 - Zao Snow Monster Report
2013/02/15 - Yokote Kamakura Festival
2013/01/10 - Winter Visit to Manza Onsen
2013/01/02 - Tokyo New Year Report

2012/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Takaosan
2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/15 - Autumn Color Report: Shosenkyo
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2012/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Hiraizumi
2012/11/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2012/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Minakami
2012/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Norikura
2012/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2012/10/09 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2012/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kogen Onsen
2012/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/17 - Exploring Tokyo: Gate Bridge
2012/08/20 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma
2012/06/18 - Legoland Discovery Center opens in Odaiba
2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2012/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2012/05/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiraizumi
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2012/04/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2012/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2012/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen, Mito
2012/03/07 - Trip to Iwaki, Fukushima
2012/02/21 - Plum Blossom Report from Tokyo
2012/01/30 - Skiing in Inawashiro, Fukushima
2012/01/27 - Kusatsu Hot Springs