Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

July 13, 2009

Hydrangea in the Fujinomori Shrine, Kyoto (Photo Moment)

In June, ajisai (hydrangeas) pop up everywhere in Japan: standing defiant along the roadside, peeping out of small private gardens, clustering in temple courtyards and parks.

[Hydrangeas like splashes of purple on the green leaves]

This year, at the end of June, I went to the Fujinomori Shrine in the Fushimi ward in Kyoto, a lesser-known spot as ajisai watching goes. But there was nothing wrong with it. Although the shrine stands in a busy residential district, Fukakusa, the grounds are extensive. There are two hydrangea gardens, one to the left of the approach to the shrine, the other at the back.

[White ghosts]

Narrow paths lead through these gardens and the flowers are so high that you can't see other viewers, let alone be disturbed by the houses and parking lots around the shrine.

[Lace cap variety hydrangea in the Fujinomori Shrine, Kyoto. In Japanese lace caps are called Gaku Ajisai or "picture frame hydrangeas."]

The hydrangea gardens are open in June and July; in the middle of June there is also the Hydrangea Festival, but I avoided this for fear of crowds. It would only have meant some additional koto (Japanese zither) music, anyway. There were still enough beautiful hydrangea to make the visit a rewarding experience.
A 5-minute walk from JR Fujinomori Station on the JR Nara Line, or a 7-minute walk from Sumizome Station on the Keihan Line