Calling all flower enthusiasts, it’s hydrangea season in Japan! Hydrangeas, called “ajisai” is quite popular in the country, with over 100 varieties in shape and color. Some form balls of flowers, while others surround a bald patch in the center. Read on to find out where to spot the most gorgeous hydrangeas in Japan.
Hydrangea season in Japan and the best places to see this rainy season flower
Despite the humidity and fog that comes with the rainy season (June to mid-July) in Japan, hydrangeas come into full bloom, giving you a romantically lush setting for Instagram-worthy photos. Japan is known to have some of the best species diversity of this rainy season flower, with many being native to the country. Depending on the soil, rain, and environment, you can enjoy this flower in shades of purple, blue, pink, white, green, and so on!
The symbolism of hydrangeas
Although hydrangeas have a slightly negative meaning in the West, wherein they symbolize arrogance with their large petals and eye-catching shape, Japan sees this flower in a more humbling manner. It is believed that a Japanese emperor gifted the family of the woman he loved with a bouquet of hydrangeas. It was a gesture showing his apology for neglecting her while he focused on his duties, gratitude for her, and as a symbol of his affection. Nowadays, the flower is used for bouquets celebrating anniversaries.
Best places to see hydrangeas in Japan
Regardless of your location, you can witness hydrangeas in full bloom across Japan, as these are often found in parks, temples, and shrine grounds, gardens, and even riverbanks. However, there are some spots that gained a reputation for having the best hydrangeas for viewing.
Three areas in Tokyo are known for their hydrangeas. The first is Asukayama Park’s Asuka-no-komichi path running parallel to the train tracks. This 400-meter path is filled with hydrangeas, usually in full bloom during the latter half of June.
Hakusan Shrine, which is a five-minute walk from Hakusan Station on the Mita Subway Line, features 3,000 hydrangeas. If you visit in mid-June, you can witness most of the flowers being cut to prepare them for the next year.
Lastly, there’s Sumida Park beside the Sumida River. Here you have cherry blossoms in spring and hydrangeas soon after.
Near Tokyo, you can visit the Kyodo-no-mo Museum in Fuchu City, with over half of the space covered by 10,000 hydrangeas.
If you miss viewing the flowers during the day, the Hakone Tozan Railway has special trains operating at night just for the illuminated hydrangeas between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora stations.
Take it up a notch by attending a hydrangea festival in Takahata Fudoson Kongoji Temple (Tokyo City). The festivities are held all throughout the month of June, featuring over 7,500 hydrangeas of over 200 varieties! Of course, there’s a photo contest involved as enthusiasts and professionals try to capture the beauty behind the camera. You can also try your hand and creativity with the haiku and tanka poem competition.
In Kyoto, you can go to the Yoshiminedera Temple with thousands of hydrangeas along a sloped garden. For the hydrangea variety, the Umenomiya Taisha is a shrine in western Kyoto with a paid garden filled with around 60 varieties of the flower.
As mentioned earlier, hydrangeas are scattered all over Japan, so if your itinerary wasn’t covered in the areas above, a quick Google search will direct you to the most accessible spot to enjoy the flowers in bloom.
Each hydrangea color and its meaning
If you’re interested in the meaning behind each hydrangea flower color, do read on, as the knowledge can help you pick the right shade should you plan on giving this flower as a present.
Pink hydrangeas are for romance, symbolizing love and heartfelt emotions. It is a perfect gift for your romantic partner. What’s more, the shape of the flower itself, plus the color, resembles a beating heart.
White hydrangeas are for purity, abundance, and grace, making them a great flower motif for weddings or baby showers.
If you want to convey forgiveness, rejection, or regret, blue hydrangeas hold the not-so-happy symbolism. You can say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness by giving the person you’ve hurt some blue hydrangeas.
Meanwhile, purple hydrangeas are for royalty, symbolizing wealth and abundance. From celebrating a promotion to a successful project, this color is the best option.
Lastly, we have green hydrangeas, which are all about good health, fortune, prosperity, and youthfulness, so why not show someone needing a fresh start with some green flowers?
Without a doubt, hydrangeas are some of the most beautiful flowers, and being surrounded by thousands of these amazing blossoms that change color depending on how they’re taken care of will leave anyone in awe.