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July 2, 2014 - Rainy Season around Tokyo: Hydrangea Flowers

The rainy season in Japan can be a headache for travelers, whose limited time and wardrobe are often at odds with the sometimes copious amounts of rain that can fall in a day during June and July. Yet rainy season is also a very rewarding time to travel... if you don't mind getting a little wet!

One of the highlights of this time of year come in the form of beautiful hydrangea flowers, called "ajisai" in Japanese.

Although they can be found everywhere around Japan at this time, there are a few places around Tokyo that truly highlight the range of color and the beauty of these flowers. If you are traveling now, you will not regret seeking out them out!

Let's start with an area that is already popular with travelers: Ueno!

Ueno has many ajisai planted around the park, with a large hill of them behind the Kiyomizu Kannon Temple especially. Even if you are strapped for time, a quick walk around the park will still allow for many picture opportunities!

Ajisai get their various colors from the soil; more acidic means darker colors, while less acidity produces lighter colored blooms. Ajisai range from white to pink to blue to purple and all shades of these colors in between. Although I don't have a picture of them, near my house is a bush with the deepest purple flowers I've ever seen!

Ueno doesn't have an specific events related to ajisai, but is still a good, central location to see them.

Kunitachi's Yaho (Yabo) Tenmangu has a wonderful small-community feel along with its hydrangea festival, held every year from about mid-June into July. I especially like how the green roofs of the shrine buildings enhance the green of the trees!

This shrine is technically called Yabo, but everyone in the area pronunces it Yaho. It is a shrine constructed in honor of Sugawara no Michizane (now enshrined as the deity Tenjin, god of scholarship and learning), and is one of the three major shrines of his in Eastern Japan, along with Tokyo's Yushima Tenmangu (a popular plum blossom spot as usual with these shrines) and Kameido Tenjin (located in Koto Ward).

Students often go to Tenjin shrines to pray for luck in passing their entrance exams, but Yaho Tenmangu also has another interesting feature as well: it was the destination of Japan's first road trip by car in 1908, and the meeting site about the future of cars in Japan, and as such has a classic car festival December 7th every year. You can also buy car-related ema and charms for driving there as well.

Yaho Tenmangu can be reached pretty easily from Tokyo by taking the Chuo Line to Tachikawa, and transferring to the Nambu Line to Yaho Station. It is a short walk from there out the south entrance of the station. Alternately, from Kunitachi Station there is a bus that goes there as well.

For those interested in seeing Ajisai outside of the two spots mentioned here, there are many opportunities. The poster above details the famous hydrangea viewing from the Hakone Mountain Railroad line in Kanagawa, which has special trains and viewing hours for the lit up hydrangea through June and July. I'd love to ride this train, but tickets sell out fast!

Around Kamakura and Enoshima in Kanagawa there are many hydrangea blooming as well, including at the famous Meigetsuin in Kamakura.

Tokyo Summer Land is not just a waterpark, but a great place to view many flowers during their festival until July 11th.

Kyoto's Sanzen-in Temple in Ohara has a festival running until around July 13th.

And of course, many flower parks in each prefecture have ajisai. But really, they are not hard flowers to find this time of the year! For those currently in Japan, please enjoy these fun flowers!

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List of Posts:
2016/04/24 - Mitsuhiko Imamori Paper Cut Works Exhibit in Takasaki
2015/11/19 - Shiobara Onsen, Tochigi
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Miyazaki City
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Nichinan Coast and Cape Toi
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Takachiho, Miyazaki
2015/08/27 - Southern Kyushu: Kumamoto Castle
2015/08/25 - Southern Kyushu: Ibusuki and Kirishima
2015/08/24 - Southern Kyushu: Kagoshima City, Kagoshima
2015/08/03 - Tambara Lavender Park
2015/07/13 - Event: Eco Edo Nihonbashi Art Aquarium
2015/05/01 - Kanna-machi Koi-no-Bori Festival
2015/05/01 - Wisteria Festival in Fujioka
2014/11/15 - Sakurayama Koen: Fall Colors and Winter-blooming Cherry Blossoms
2014/11/15 - Ueno-mura Sky Bridge and Fall Colors
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 1: Gifu City and Gujo Caves
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 2: Gujo City and Shirakawa-go
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 3: Hida Takayama
2014/07/02 - Rainy Season around Tokyo: Hydrangea Flowers
2014/05/27 - Road Trip: Yamadera, Yamagata
2014/05/26 - Road Trip: Yonezawa, Yamagata
2014/05/19 - Roadtrip Fukushima's Ouchijuku
2014/05/16 - Roadtrip: Aizu-Wakamatsu
2014/04/30 - Climbing Gunma's Mt. Myogi
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 2: Tokyo Report
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 1: Gunma Plums
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 1
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 2
2013/10/30 - Cosmos and Mt. Myogi
2013/10/01 - Fall Flowers: Higanbana
2012/12/01 - Winter Cherry Blossoms at Joumine Kouen
2012/11/18 - Annual Coco Harvest Festival
2012/11/11 - Ueno Cat cafe ''Nekomaru''
2012/11/10 - Tokyo Design Festa vol.36 at Odaiba
2012/11/04 - Utsunomiya, Tochigi Gyoza Festival