Japanese people are usually keen to point out that Japan is a country with four very distinct seasons. Japan has a secret fifth season: tsuyu, also known as the rainy season. Around mid-June and early July, the summer heat gives way to a few weeks with lots of rainy and cloudy days. Understandably, most people start getting down in the dumps about this unpredictable rain and humidity. However, there’s an undeniable highlight to the rainy season. That is Japanese hydrangeas or ajisai.
Hydrangea blooms come to life along with the rain. There’s nothing quite like spotting the blue, purple, pink, and grey flowers in amongst the rain. I would go so far as to say that they are probably my favourite flower. They can be spotted almost everywhere, from residential gardens to train tracks, but if you want to see these flowers in all their glory, don’t miss these two spots in Miyagi.
Japanese Hydrangeas and temples are a natural match. There are many hydrangea temples scattered all over Japan, and Shifukuji is Sendai’s. This small temple complex won’t usually come up first on any Sendai city guides, but it’s simply unmissable in the rainy season. The climb up to the main temple entrance is bordered by a multitude of hydrangeas.
Even more flowers greet you when you make your way inside the temple area. The small size of the temple makes it perfect to see an array of Japanese hydrangeas all at once. Take a moment to sit down and enjoy the serene temple backdrop against the bright blue blooms.
15 minute taxi ride from Sendai station
20 minute walk from Kita-Sendai or Kitayama station
Funaoka Castle Ruins Park
You can visit Funaoka park in almost any season and enjoy something different. Although it’s most famous for cherry blossoms, the hydrangeas are also a sight to behold. You’ll be rewarded after climbing to the park with a fairytale-like vision. Hydrangeas are dotted throughout the park, but, in my opinion, the best area is down a series of steps to a tiny forest of hydrangeas. Looking down at all the flowers took my breath away. I couldn’t stop snapping photos!
10 minutes taxi from Funaoka station (request to be driven into the park, and not just the parking lot at the bottom)
20 minutes walk from Funaoka station
Did you know that the colour of the hydrangea flower changes depending largely on the PH of the soil they’re in? I wonder what that means for the multicoloured hydrangea bunches that we sometimes see!
Check out STAY JAPAN to book a stay in Miyagi and enjoy the same experience as Charleen!