The beginning of June marks the start of rainy season in Japan. Humidity levels rise, downpours are expected several times a week and every store you pass is touting different kawaii/fashionable rain gear – rainboots, light rain coats, ponchos, and umbrellas in every color and style you can imagine. But the best part is the sudden explosion of blooming hydrangeas (ajisai) that last all month and add so much vibrant color all over the city, surrounding suburbs, and the rest of the country.
I headed out to the neighboring Kamakura this Saturday, which is one of the prime spots for admiring these cotton-candy blooms as well as spending some relaxing time by the beach. Kamakura is a real dream. It has it all: nice coastline, historic sites, beautiful gardens, great shopping and delicious food. Perfect place for a weekend getaway.
When I arrived, it was awash with lush bushes of colorful hydrangeas blooming everywhere – random alleyways, gardens, along train tracks – which added an eerie pastel glow to the city and made it even more enchanting.
Appreciation and celebration of nature in Japan is inspiring and astounding. Ever since February, when the first plum trees bloomed, there have been festivals dedicated to every single flower: cherry blossoms, wisteria, tulips, shibazakura, and now iris and hydrangea. There are destinations where hundreds to thousands of hydrangea are planted just for viewing pleasure and appreciation during June. There are festivals in many well known hydrangea-heavy areas, and even some snacks shaped like the ajisai.
It felt magical to get lost in this beautiful hydrangea wonderland, connect with nature and soak up the atmosphere: emerald bamboo groves, hillsides covered in lush forests, fragrance of incense filling the air, birds chirping, and luxuriant clusters of flowers in the pastel hues of blue, violet, pink and ivory. I spent the day walking all over the city wandering in random nooks and crannies, although Hasedera and Meigetsuin Temples were the best spots for immersing into the ethereal world of ajisai. Here are some details captured during the day spent flower spotting in Kamakura.
Beautiful isn’t it? I have always liked flowers, but I learned to appreciate the beauty of nature on a whole new level in Japan, and this lesson is priceless.