One of the good things about Japan’s rainy season (tsuyu) is the hydrangeas that come with it. The blue-purple flowers have been admired since as far back as the 8th century. In Japanese literature, hydrangeas symbolize gratitude, deep emotion and contrition.
From a fantastic hydrangea mountain to easily accessible beautiful shrines with hydrangea festivals, we’ve rounded up the best places to admire hydrangeas in and around Tokyo.
1. Tamagawadai Park’s Hydrangea Garden (Ota-ku)
With over 3,000 beautiful hydrangeas in seven different varieties, taking a walk around Tamagawadai Park in mid-June is a treat for the senses. There are various walkways through which to stroll and admire the many blooms in wonderful hues of blue, pink and even yellow.
From red-brick paths to stairs and even hydrangeas overlooking a small fishing pond, Tamagawadai Park is great for capturing hydrangeas with lots of different backgrounds.
2. Hakusan Shrine (Bunkyo-ku)
The very conveniently located Hakusan Shrine in Bunkyo-ku, central Tokyo, is the perfect spot for popping in and catching some flowers. The 1,300-year-old shrine even holds a hydrangea festival as the flowers reach peak blooming season in mid-June. Head to the festival to sample some pre-summertime vibes and flowers before the weather gets too hot to handle.
3. Minamisawa Ajisai Mountain (Akiruno)
Over 10,000 amazing hydrangeas – all the work of one determined resident. For over 50 years, Chuichi Minamisawa has been planting hydrangeas all over the mountain that he owns in Akiruno City, Tokyo.
What began as 20 plants in one year has grown to 10,000 in 50 years, with people coming from far and wide to check out the blooms whilst they’re in season, from mid-June to early July. Minamisawa welcomes visitors with open arms and a big smile, often getting up early during the peak season to tidy the paths.
Over the years, Minamisawa’s Ajisai Mountain, as it is affectionately known, has become more and more popular, as people enjoy the scenic walk around the paths, with rare blooms including firework hydrangeas.
4. Showa Kinen Park (Tachikawa)
Head over to north Tokyo to Tachikawa for the 9,000 blooms in the expansive Showa Kinen Park. A destination in itself, the park is well kept and hydrangeas are carefully treated all year round to ensure they reach peak condition come mid-June.
The hydrangea areas are split into two: the first is a walk along the stream which runs through the park, known as Ajisai Road which has blooms in blue, yellow and pink stretching the length of the banks. The second is a large expanse of hydrangeas, including some under a picturesque water fountain.
5. Hamarikyu Gardens (Chuo-ku)
Famed for being one of four surviving Edo Period clan gardens in Tokyo, this green spot has an abundance of flowers year-round. Inside the gardens is the small Nakajima teahouse where visitors can sit drinking tea while admiring the blooming hydrangeas in the traditional Japanese surroundings.
6. Takahata Fudoson Temple Hydrangea Festival (Hino)
Located in Hino city, the Takahata Fudoson Temple hosts an annual Hydrangea Festival which sees visitors from local towns and further afield. The shrine boasts over 200 varieties of hydrangea and around 7,500 plants.
7. Fuchu City Local Forest Museum (Fuchu)
From the end of May until the start of July, the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum holds a hydrangea festival to celebrate its 10,000 hydrangeas spread over 14 hectares of land. Spot hydrangeas around the town in inventive places and check out local shops and restaurants along the way.
8. Wonderful Nature Village (Akiruno)
Surprisingly, the Akiruno Wonderful Nature Village is still technically in Tokyo.
A camping site that prides itself on being family and dog friendly, the location is great for hydrangea-spotting, with its annual Hydrangea Festival close to its 50th year. Visitors can enjoy a walking course with over 60 varieties of hydrangea spread across 15,000 flowers.