Hydrangea (Ajisai in Japanese) is the sign of the rainy season in Japan. It is a kind of flower that is adored and honored by most of the Japanese like they do for ume, sakura and irises. In fact, the flower was first discovered in Japan. View of hydrangea flower is a tradition here. We all love it. If ume (plum blossom) is the sign of early spring then it is the symbol of coming summer. In general, they start blooming from early June to mid July. This is the typical hydrangea blooming season in Japan. If you like nature, especially Japanese nature then there is no way one can stay away from visiting places in which tons of hydrangeas are bloomed of different kinds.
So far, in my life, I have been to some places throughout Japan in order to discover hydrangea gardens. According to my experience, the best spots are located in Tokyo area that includes Kamakura, Mito, Hakone, and Enoshima. They usually grow up in the temple & shrine’s grounds, gardens, parks, and riverbanks. In this article, I would like to tell you many things based on this beautiful flower including the best places to see Hydrageas in Japan. I hope you can learn something unknown here today.
About Japanese Hydrangea
As Japan is seen to be the birthplace of Hydrangea, I have to admit that it is one of the most beautiful summer flowers you could see here along with irises. A single day trip to Meigetsuin temple located in Kamakura would be enjoying when hydrangeas are in their full glory. I would describe about this temple in detail later in this article. In Japan, there are variety kinds of Ajisai you could see such as white, blue, dark blue, blue green, purple and light pink. Though, color range is determined by the acidity level of the soil and rains. I personally like the blue color hydrangea and that’s for why I try my best to head to Meigetsuin Temple during the rainy season.
Not every Ajisai variety you find in Japan has fragrance. Some of them has light fragrant and some of them has nothing at all. It all depends on the variety. I am not sure about the number of the variety we grow but I heard there are about 70 or more species of hydrangea can be found in the land of the rising sun. There are two main types of Ajisai blossoms, one is round and other one is flat heads. A cluster of small blossoms with dark green leaves make this flower plant quite elegant to look at. One interesting fact of Hydrangea is that the flower can change its colors over time. It is like shifting from pink to purple. A single young plant could produce different colors of blossoms. That’s brilliant!
Hydrangea in Japanese Culture
If Japanese culture fascinates you then I guess reading about hydrangea’s impact on Japanese culture will not bother you. After all it is an interesting part of this post. Maybe you are overwhelmed by the big round balls of flowers like me. Certainly I am and in my family, all the members get prepared to see Ajisai. Not only my family is concerned with this rather every families of Japan more or less are very addicted to them either in temple’s grounds or parks. This is a tradition that makes our culture pretty strong and solid. The atmosphere is like getting out for celebrating hanami but this time no sakura. Instead of Sakura we have Ajisai – a mind blowing flower welcomes us to show its lush beauty in an unstable weather.
Rainy weather does not resist us rather we pray saying “don’t stop raining until the hydrangeas become fully bloomed”. The more rain it gets the more beautiful and healthy flower one plant could produce. I have forgotten to tell you that there is another nickname of hydrangea, called nanahenge. It means seven transformations in Japan.
The flower has a long history in Japan and its culture. History says hydrangeas have appeared in poems of the Nara period (710-794). During the Edo period (1618-1868), seeing the changeability of the flower this flower was ignored by the Samurai as they used to believe that this flower is immortal.
What does a hydrangea symbolize in Japanese culture? Hydrangeas change their color with environment in the rain and this fact makes us to think of this as inconsistent, immortal, sadness of impermanence, change of mind, hopeless love and so on. Though, cluster of hydrangea blossoms symbolize enduring love, everlasting friendships, and family bonds.
Hydrangea themed accessories found in Japan are quite famous. It appears as a popular decorative motif such as in Kimono, woodblock prints, paintings, tableware, jewelry, and other home décor accessories. A famous Japanese painter of the mid-Edo period, Ito Jakuchu added few hydrangea plants and blossoms in brilliant paintings. You would also find it in many Japanese literature. In fact, the value of hydrangea in Japanese art is exceptional.
The Rainy Season and Hydrangea in Japan
The rainy season (tsuyu) in Japan is gorgeous. It rains a lot and may appear as a devastating natural calamity but my heart remains with it because I do like raining. It is wonderful hearing the sounds of pouring raindrops and looking at the cloudy rainy sky. Having green tea in such a moment is just a perfect and relaxing time to pass by. Sometimes it is great to get wet in the rain.
Without the rainy season I guess hydrangeas would not properly grow up. They need rains, if they run out of it surly they die. Do you want to see them die? No, I don’t want it to be so. It would not be wonderful to pass a rainy season without them. Where there is no rain, there’s no hydrangea as well especially that grows naturally. Many Japan travel magazines/blogs say not to travel to Japan during the rainy season (early summer) but I say you should. Bear in mind that hydrangeas can’t be seen in spring, summer, autumn and winter. It is exclusive and gives you a certain time to experience it. Don’t waste your time, take the opportunity on time. Don’t think it is unsuitable to travel at this time of the year. There are plenty of things you could do that includes flower viewing, visiting temple & shrines, eating summer dishes in a traditional restaurants, walking through the bamboo forest when it rains and many more.
Hydrangea Festival in Japan
Festival is held every month in Japan. No month ends without the presence of matsuri (festival). They come and pass by throughout the whole year blessing the life of ours. Here almost every festival has its own unique origins and customs. Traditional Japanese festivals are an important part of the country’s history and culture. They introduce you to life in Japan. Don’t you believe me? Just think about hanami, it brings you a picture of cherry blossoms and the traditions we are belong to.
Hydrangea festival is one of the traditional festivals we celebrate in early summer. It is a Japanese rainy season festival, usually celebrated in various parts of Japan where actually famous hydrangeas viewing spots are located. During the festival, many interesting events are held to entertain the visitors and make the event attractive.
Events like outdoor tea ceremony, photography contest, photo session, haiku competition, restaurants offering local specialties, music & dance performances are the main events one can experience under a cloudy sky. Sometimes these events are postponed because of the bad weather.
Now let’s see some major hydrangeas festival names which are worth visiting, they are: Hakkeijima hydrangea festival, Yanagidani Kannon hydrangea festival, Mito hydrangea festival, Mikaeri falls hydrangea festival, Bunkyo hydrangea festival, Itadori hydrangea festival, Sanzen-in hydrangea festival, and Wakamatsu hydrangea festival. Later I would tell you about the famous places to view hydrangea in Japan.
Best Places to See Hydrangea in Japan
Looking for the best Hydrangea gardens to visit in Japan? If you live in Tokyo then it is a big advantage for you. Why? According to my experience, Tokyo has the most beautiful hydrangea gardens. There you can find more than 10 famous gardens to admire the beauty of Hydrangeas. Now let’s go and find out the best spots for hydrangeas.
1) Meigetsuin Temple/ Ajisaidera in Kamakura – Famous for Hime-ajisai (Ancient Japanese Hydrangeas)
2) Hakone Tozan Railway (Hydrangea Train) – (Hakone-Yumoto and Gora Stations) in Hakone
3) Hase Temple (Hasedera) in Kamakura
4) Mimurotoji Temple in Kyoto
5) Hakusan Jinja Shrine in Tokyo
6) Asukayama Park in Tokyo
7) Shimoda Park in Shizuoka
8) Hondoji Temple in Chiba
9) Ohirasan Jinja Shrine in Tochigi
10) Fujinomori Shrine in Kyoto
Hydrangea Decorating Ideas
Are you looking for some hydrangea arrangement ideas? Hydrangea is not only a beautiful flower but a useful home décor accessory as well. Having a little garden filled with hydrangeas could make your house look stunning. It would add extra floral beauty to your garden. Your garden would shine enough to make someone thinks of its unique beauty.
If you want to see fresh hydrangea blooms inside your house then cut some and put them right into a vase of water. You can use a tall vase for a fantastic floral arrangement and then put some various colors of hydrangeas together. Then enjoy their utmost beauty.
A vase of hydrangeas can be very pretty on the dining table. This is a great floral centerpiece idea you could rely on before inviting someone to have a dinner at home with you and your family. I guess it is a popular wedding centerpiece. Have not you tried it before? Please learn how to do it here.
Visit Japan and See Hydrangeas
Are you well inspired reading this post and want to have a trip to Japan during the rainy season? I know the weather we have here is very humid. People hate this sort of weather but I am different and I like being different. This is not a hated season rather I believe it is the most exciting time of a year to enjoy glorious looking hydrangeas.
I don’t tend to stay inside on rainy days, when it rains I would rather head to some hydrangeas spots to satisfy my mind. Under the drizzling sky, it is lovely walking through the garden’s trails holding an umbrella. And do you know when the most exciting moment comes to me? That’s when my eyes stare at the Ajisai. They surly remind me of my childhood memories. I welcome you to enjoy the rainy season in Japan by visiting renowned hydrangeas spots across Japan. Thank you.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis