3 Must-See Hydrangea Gardens in Tokyo

Nationwide Tour Hydrangeas 2022.06.20
In Japan, June means hydrangeas, so don't miss the chance to see these beautiful Tokyo flower gardens before the season ends!
Hydrangeas in and Around Tokyo
Blooming hydrangeas signal the arrival of summer in regions all over the world, but in Japan, where the changing of the seasons has long been a part of art and culture, hydrangeas and hydrangea viewing have become a yearly full-blown event. Temples and shrines open their verdant hydrangea gardens to the public, and hydrangea festivals all over the country give passionate gardeners a chance to show off the incredible variety of colors, shapes, and sizes these simple flowers can be coaxed into. Of course, the crowds who go hydrangea viewing every year aren't just fawning over one or two hydrangea bushes like you might see in a home garden! Japanese hydrangea gardens are dreamy destinations, usually filled with countless plants growing huge puffs of multi-colored petals, and narrow paths lined with tall bushes with pale blue flowers. When mid-June rolls around, there's no better way to spend a day in the Tokyo area than a little hydrangea viewing.

Travelers take note! In Japan, hydrangea season coincides pretty perfectly with tsuyu, Japan's rainy season! But a little rain shouldn't stop you from enjoying the flowers. Many will tell you that flower viewing is perfectly lovely even when it's a little damp out, and some say that hydrangeas in the rain are especially beautiful. It just means you should take some precautions and dress for the season! If you want to be prepared for the weather and still look great in photos with the flowers, we recommend this Japanese hydrangea print dress, a handmade waterproof bag from one of Japan's many fashionable creators, and of course a nice umbrella to match - the polka dots on this Yayoi Kusama umbrella look a little like raindrops, or maybe a little like blue hydrangeas.
➡ Hakusan Shrine
This small and inconspicuous shrine in central Tokyo might not stand out for much of the year, but Hakusan Shrine actually has a history stretching back to the mid-10th century, and a hydrangea garden that blows visitors away to this day. Every year, at the peak of the blooming season, Hakusan Shrine hosts the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival to show off the 3,000 or more hydrangea bushes that fill up the shrine grounds and the neighboring Hakusan Park. Classic hydrangeas bloom pale blue and purple along the path leading to the shrine's main hall, and a myriad of other rare and unique hydrangea varieties can be found dotted around the grounds, from the unusually shaped "tea of heaven" bushes that come from high in the Japanese mountains, to foreign plants imported from America and France. The shrine even has its own "mountain" on the premises - a small hill covered entirely with hydrangeas, which has been dubbed the "Hydrangea Mt. Fuji." Most years, this small gated hill is only open to the public for a handful of days during the festival, but in recent years COVID has put a stop to visitors entering the area entirely. But the festival does still include musical performances, and even an opportunity for dental consultations!

More about Hakusan Shrine.
➡ Sumida Park
The Sumida River functions as the eastern border of Tokyo's Asakusa neighborhood, and visitors who venture over to the riverbank will find one long public park stretched out along the water, lined with flowerbeds and studded with benches and bridges. The hydrangeas in Sumida Park aren't as densely packed as some other spots, but brilliant bunches of the flowers can be seen all along the path, which has been dubbed "Hydrangea Road" (あじさいロード). After wading through the busy streets around Sensoji Temple on a humid early summer day in Tokyo, a walk along the broad, breezy paths of this public park is a perfect break from the crowds, especially when you get a chance to admire the 10,000 hydrangea bushes that are blooming along the way. It's also an ideal place to get some incredible photos of Tokyo Skytree with the flowers!

More about Asakusa and Sumida Park.
➡ Meigetsuin Temple
Meigetsuin Temple isn't in Tokyo, but making the hour-long trek down to the nearby city of Kamakura is well worth it each June, when this temple becomes a sea of blue flowers. The temple was originally built in 1160, and it's strongly associated with a 13th-century Kamakura shogun regent named Hojo Tokiyori, but these days the temple is so famous for its flowers that it's earned the nickname Ajisai-dera (紫陽花寺/Hydrangea Temple). Meigetsuin may have fewer flower bushes than other hydrangea spots (estimates count the number around 2,500), but to many visitors this spot is the most impressive of the bunch, thanks to the hydrangeas that line up like hedgerows along the winding temple paths and create a secluded secret garden atmosphere, even when the temple is packed with people. The hydrangeas that crowd Meigetsuin's grounds are almost all a variety that goes by the name "princess hydrangea" (姫アジサイ/hime-ajisai), and the blooms are all a light blue that does seem to match Cinderella's ballgown, but here the sky blue petals add an extra dose of magic to this temple garden.

While you're there, don't forget to catch a glimpse through the temple's famous circular window, which looks out onto the back garden of the temple. During limited periods in early summer and again in autumn, visitors can pay an extra fee to go back into the second garden to see irises or beautiful fall foliage.

▶ More about Kamakura sightseeing.
Go Hydrangea Hopping This June
One of the nicest things about flower viewing in Japan is that beautiful blooms can be found in just about every direction, and that includes hydrangeas. So whether you spend June traveling from one famous garden to another, or you just take a moment to admire hydrangea bushes planted along the sidewalk in the middle of Tokyo, keep an eye out for the beautiful flowers wherever you go this summer!

(And don't forget to prepare yourself for rainy season, either!)
Related Article
Question Forum