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Best Places to View Beautiful Hydrangea in Japan

2024-03-19

Called ajisai in Japanese, hydrangea are a common sight in gardens, parks, and temples throughout the country. The flower blossoms in the warmer months between late spring and early autumn, though Japan’s rainy season of June is typically considered the best time of year to see them.

The term “hydrangea” is a genus in itself and refers to more than 70 species native to Asia and the Americas. Find out where you can discover the most amazing views of this perennially popular flower, with its blooms falling on a spectrum of white and pale blue to lavender and bright pink, along with hotel recommendations to help you plan your travels.

 

1. Hakusan-jinja Shrine (Tokyo)

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Tokyo’s annual Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival takes place in mid-June on the grounds of Hakusan-jinja Shrine, one of the city’s most famous Shinto shrines. The weeklong festival entails Shinto rituals, food stalls, and musical and dance performances by local groups.

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Around 3,000 hydrangeas bloom near this historic shrine, which dates back to the 10th century, and in the eponymous park surrounding it. The flowers flank the path that leads toward the shrine’s main hall and surround the Fujizuka, a small mound that represents Mount Fuji. Hydrangea season is a time of reflection and renewal as springtime gives way to the intense heat of the summer months.

Bunkyo is one of the most central wards within the metropolis of Tokyo — situated east of Shinjuku, north of Chiyoda (where the Imperial Palace is located), and west of Taito (home to Asakusa and Senso-ji Temple). Various hotel options are available and offer a glimpse of a quieter, more residential side to Tokyo.

 

2. Takahata Fudoson Kongo-ji Temple (Tokyo)

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Located in the western city of Hino in Tokyo, Takahata Fudoson Kongo-ji Temple is a site of Buddhist worship that traces its history to the eighth century. More than 7,000 hydrangea bloom on the temple grounds, which hosts a festival celebrating the flower in June each year. The hydrangea bloom naturally on the hillside and along scenic hiking trails that surround the temple.

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Takahata Fudoson is dedicated to the Buddhist deity Fudo Myo’o, also known as Acala. The sight of the hydrangea in this atmosphere of spiritual solemnity will leave an indelible impression on you during your visit to Hino, east of Hachioji City and the popular destination of Mount Takao. Consider lodging in Hachioji to make the most of your time; you’ll have direct access to a number of beautiful natural landscapes and can enjoy a different side of Tokyo away from the intense hustle and bustle of the urban center.

 

3. Hase-dera Temple (Kanagawa)

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The ancient political center of Kamakura is worth a visit in any season, but the rainy season of June to July is a great time to view hydrangea at Hase-dera Temple, home to a massive wooden statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. While the temple is also known for its cherry blossoms in early spring, more than 2,500 hydrangea bloom just a few months later, enlivening the hilly landscape with their bursts of purplish-blue.

The temple dates to the eighth century, and the impressive statue of Kannon is the largest in all of Japan, standing more than nine meters in height. Besides the excellent views of hydrangea, you can enjoy a vista of Sagami Bay from the temple grounds.

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Kamakura is an easy day trip from Tokyo, reachable by train in about an hour. Find out more in our Kamakura day trip guide. Alternatively, there are some wonderful hotel and ryokan options for those who want to stay the night and explore more of what this seaside town offers.

 

4. Hakone Tozan Railway (Kanagawa)

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Hakone Town, located in Kanagawa, is renowned for its breathtaking display of hydrangea during the early summer. The hydrangea season typically starts mid-June and lasts until July, depending on the elevation; the higher elevation, the later the season starts. The Hakone Tozan Railway, which connects the areas within Hakone by train and cable car, offers a unique and picturesque journey through tunnels of these vibrant flowers.

During the hydrangea blooming season, it's probably most famous for the train that connects Hakone Yumoto Station and Gora Station, which is also known as Ajisai Densha (Hydrangea train). For a limited time from around mid-June to early July, the hydrangeas along the tracks are illuminated at night.

Hakone Town is easily reachable from Tokyo by train and is a great destination for a quick daytrip from Tokyo or an overnight trip. From Shinjuku Station, the Odakyu Romance Car will take you to Hakone Yumoto Station in about an hour and a half. There are plenty of options for hotels and ryokans in Hakone Town, which is famous for its hot springs. For more details on Hakone, check out Five Reasons to Add Hakone to Your Japan Itinerary and 24 Hours in Hakone guides.

 

5. Hattori Hydrangea House (Chiba)

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Hattori Hydrangea House, located in Mobara City, Chiba, occupies a sprawling 18,000 square meters of land and boasts around 250 varieties of hydrangea that burst into bloom each year. More than 10,000 hydrangea can be found on site, representing the fruits of the labor of the Hattori family.

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The family-run farm is overseen by Kiyoshi Hattori, whose father began planting hydrangeas in the late 20th century to spruce up the local landscape. The operation grew over the decades until reaching its current state of abundance; it now draws a steady stream of visitors, especially around June. The Hattori Hydrangea House also sells locally farmed vegetables and fruits that allow you to taste the riches of the land directly.

Mobara City is located in eastern Chiba, around two hours from Tokyo by train. Chiba’s beaches, forests, and other natural landscapes make it an ideal getaway if you’re seeking some time in the great outdoors during your travels to Japan.

 

6. Shimoda Park (Shizuoka)

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Shimoda Park is conveniently situated near the coastal part of Shimoda, a seaside city on the southern tip of the picturesque Izu Peninsula. An astounding three million hydrangea flowers make this one of the largest hydrangea-viewing spots in the entire country.

Shimoda itself is an historic city known for being the first site of an American consulate in Japan, dating back to the mid-19th century. Besides the unparalleled hydrangea garden, Shimoda Park also encompasses the ruins of Shimoda Castle (built in 1588), observation decks with panoramic views of the surrounding water, and various hiking trails. Nearby, there’s also an aquarium with dolphins, penguins, and other attractions.

The Izu Peninsula is part of Shizuoka, southwest of Tokyo. It’s a popular destination for hiking, hot springs, and small-town charms. A trip from Tokyo to Shimoda takes around three or four hours, depending on your point of departure and destination. Find out more about Izu with our guide to Izu. Hotel options in Shimoda City include hot spring resorts, beachfront properties, and cozy villas where you can unwind in nature.

 

7. Kazahaya no Sato (Mie)

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Kazahaya no Sato, located within a golf club in Tsu City, Mie, is a must-visit for flower enthusiasts. Plum trees bloom from late February to March; the wisterias from late April to early May; and from early June to late July, over 70,000 hydrangea plants come to life with mesmerizing hues of blue, pink, purple, and white, creating a truly picture-perfect landscape in an astounding 33,000-square-meter area.

Tsu City is a coastal city located along Ise Bay, about an hour from Nagoya by train and 30 minutes from Ise City, making it a good option to stop by if you’re traveling in that area in early summer.

 

8. Yanagidani Kannon Yokoku-ji Temple (Kyoto)

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From early June to early July, around 27 different species totaling 5,000 hydrangea bloom at Yanagidani Kannon Yokoku-ji Temple in Kyoto. They host the Ajisai Week during the hydrangea season, which actually takes place for a month. Kamisho-in Study, which is normally only made public once a month, is open throughout the period, and other special events take place during this time. There are multiple instagrammable spots, including the Ajisai Kairo (corridor) and Ajisai Kaidan (steps).

Yanagidani Kannon Yokoku-ji Temple is in Nagaokakyo City, located southwest of Kyoto City. You can find a place to stay near the temple or stay in Kyoto City near Kyoto Station as it is only about 11 minutes by train from Kyoto City.

 

9. Higashiyama Park Hydrangea Forest (Yamagata)

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Shinjo, a city in the northern prefecture of Yamagata, is home to Higashiyama Park Hydrangea Forest. An enchanting landscape of 45,000 hydrangea that reach full bloom slightly later than other parts of Japan, the flowers here peak around July, at which time the park hosts a hydrangea festival.

You can enjoy this pastel palette while partaking in the Higashiyama 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, a walking path that features statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Stretching only 500 meters in length, the pilgrimage path allows travelers to steep themselves in the tranquil, meditative atmosphere of the forest.

Shinjo can be reached about an hour from Yamagata City, the prefectural capital known for its delicious fruits, locally produced sake, and hot spring getaways.