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Azaleas For The Win

Ni no Maru, Imperial Palace East Garden

Okay, in a cherry blossoms vs. azaleas fight to the death, where are you going to slap down your hard-earned cash? (Hint: Let me put it this way, I’ve seen Japanese azalea gardens reduce people who are never at a loss for words to just saying…wow.)

Here are my favorite places to see them right now in Tokyo…

NI NO MARU, Imperial Palace East Garden

This little garden is filled with hedges that look like abstract paintings made with flowers. Most of the year, the Imperial Palace gardens are totally missable, but during azalea season, you have to GO.
The blooming azaleas look even brighter, because they are set amid a forest-y landscape of green trees
The first azaleas to bloom are the red ones, the last are white. At any one time, several colors are in full riot, but the mix changes every day.
The first azaleas to bloom are the red ones, the last are white. At any one time, several colors are in full riot, but the mix changes every day.


This shrine in Northern Tokyo is one of my favorites in any season, but (duh, I’m sure you can guess) it’s famous for its azaleas.
How do they get them to bloom like that? Kind of amazing, isn’t it?
The added bonus of seeing the azaleas at the Nezu Shrine is that you can also walk through their tunnel of torii gates.


Rikugi-en has an “azalea mountain” that is planted in all different colors, but they’re allowed to grow in a more natural style.
The azaleas at Rikugi-en are more like nice surprises than an ambush, as you stroll through this beautiful garden.

“A great read!” —Liza Dalby, author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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