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Great Balls O’ Flowery Fluff: Tokyo’s Best Hydrangea Gardens

If someone says “hydrangeas” and you think “boring white puffballs,” you haven’t seen the outrageous ones in Tokyo yet! Here are my favorite hydrangea garden extravaganzas, and they’ll be blooming ’til the end of June, just sayin’…

New for 2020!

MINAMIYAMA HYDRANGEA MOUNTAIN in Musashi-itsukaichi

As you can see, these are wild hydrangeas at their finest!

The trail winds up a gully lined with towering, flowering hydrangeas

And features many different varieties

Open: This hiking preserve is open every day, but if you want to hike amid the blooming hydrangeas, you should go sometime between mid-June and late July. These photos were taken at the beginning of July.

Hours: 8:00 – 20:00

Admission: ¥250

MAP

HAKUSAN SHRINE in Hon-Komagome

These are just the ones bordering the parking lot at the shrine!
These are just the ones bordering the parking lot at the shrine!
During the Ajisai Festival (the second week in June very year) the fu-dogs greet visitors with a crazy bouquet of living hydrangeas.
During the Ajisai Festival (the second week in June very year) the fu-dogs greet visitors with a crazy bouquet of living hydrangeas.
The purifying spring is all decked out in hydrangea finery as well.
The purifying spring is all decked out in hydrangea finery as well.
And of course they sell hydrangea-themed sweets! This is mizu-yokan, a sort of jellied bean paste that is popular in summertime.
And of course they sell hydrangea-themed sweets! This is mizu-yokan, a sort of jellied bean paste that is popular in summertime.

Hours: Open 24 hours

Open: Every day of the year. The Ajisai Festival is from June 6 – 14 in 2015, but you can see the hydrangeas blooming through the whole month of June

Admission: Free

Map

HONDO-JI TEMPLE in Kitakogane

This temple is a little outside of Tokyo – about 25 minutes from Kita-Senju – but it's well worth the train ride to see the acres of bodacious blooms!
This temple is a little outside of Tokyo – about 25 minutes from Kita-Senju – but it’s well worth the train ride to see the acres of bodacious blooms!
Plus: pagoda
Plus: pagoda
The grounds are really huge, and this bamboo forest sits next to the iris garden, which may still be blooming while you're there.
The grounds are really huge, and this bamboo forest sits next to the iris garden, which may still be blooming while you’re there.
Shady flower-lined paths? Check!
Shady flower-lined paths? Check!
Hydrangeas + thick carpets of moss = YES
Hydrangeas + thick carpets of moss = YES

Hours: 8:00 – 17:00

Open: Every day

Admission: ¥500 during hydrangea season (June)

Map

ASUKAYAMA PARK/OJI STATION in Oji

The famous banks of hydrangeas are not actually in the park – they border the train tracks between the park and Oji Station. Stairways lead down to the path from the park, though, and you can easily get there from any direction.
The famous banks of hydrangeas are not actually in the park – they border the train tracks between the park and Oji Station. Stairways lead down to the path from the park, though, and you can easily get there from any direction.
The flowers here are mostly the old-fashioned kind, but they bloom in every color, and the display stretches for the entire length of Asukayama Park.
The flowers here are mostly the old-fashioned kind, but they bloom in every color, and the display stretches for the entire length of Asukayama Park.
The colors are really exquisite up close.
The colors are really exquisite up close.
My favorites are the traditional Japanese blue ones
My favorites are the traditional Japanese blue ones

Hours: Open 24 hours

Open: Every day of the year.

Admission: Free

Map

TAKAHATA FUDOSAN TEMPLE in Takahatafudo

This temple has a huge
This temple has a huge “hydrangea mountain” criss-crossed with nicely-groomed hiking paths and planted with many varieties of hydrangeas
It's shady and cool, even in the dog days of June
It’s shady and cool, even in the dog days of June
And in case you haven't gotten around to making that famous (and arduous) Shikoku temple pilgrimage, the paths on the hydrangea mountain are populated by Jizo figures from each of the 88 temples on the circuit. Shortcut to paradise? Sign me up!
And in case you haven’t gotten around to making that famous (and arduous) Shikoku temple pilgrimage, the paths on the hydrangea mountain are populated by Jizo figures from each of the 88 temples on the circuit. Shortcut to paradise? Sign me up!
Interesting varieties bloom in big clumps...
Interesting varieties bloom in big clumps…
...or dotted about like little wild origami
…or dotted about like little wild origami
Shrines like this Inari fox shrine are tucked in among the flowers
Shrines like this Inari fox shrine are tucked in among the flowers
And of course, you get to see Takahata Fudo's gorgeous pagoda while you're there to see the flowers!
And of course, you get to see Takahata Fudo’s gorgeous pagoda while you’re there to see the flowers!

Hours: Open 24 hours

Open: Every day of the year.

Admission: Free

Map

And of course, I have to mention the two famous hydrangea temples in nearby Kamakura…

HASEDERA TEMPLE in Kamakura

Every kind of hydrangea you can imagine greets the waiting crowds at the foot of Hasedera temple's ajisai mountain
Every kind of hydrangea you can imagine greets the waiting crowds at the foot of Hasedera temple’s ajisai mountain
Stairs climb up through the flowers on the steep hillside behind the temple
Stairs climb up through the flowers on the steep hillside behind the temple
You can sort of see why it's famous
You can sort of see why it’s famous
A waterfall of lace-caps engulfs a stone mini-pagoda
A waterfall of lace-caps engulfs a stone mini-pagoda
There are quiet nooks adorned with ajisai too.
There are quiet nooks adorned with ajisai too.

Hours: 8:00 – 17:00

Open: Every day

Admission: ¥500

Map

MEIGETSU-IN TEMPLE in Kitakamakura

The famous steps leading into the temple
The famous steps leading into the temple
Hydrangeas and bamboo
Hydrangeas and bamboo

Hours: 8:00 – 17:00

Open: Every day

Admission: ¥300

Map

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“A wonderful blend of history and mystery.” —Laura Joh Rowland, author of The Iris Fan

In modern-day Tokyo, Robin Swann’s life has sputtered to a stop. She’s stuck in a dead-end job testing antiquities for an auction house, but her true love is poetry, not…read more

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!

4 thoughts on “Great Balls O’ Flowery Fluff: Tokyo’s Best Hydrangea Gardens Leave a comment

  1. Beautiful! I have always loved these flowers. My grandmother had them growing along the front of her house. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Don’t pick the flowers!” But hydrangeas were bouquets on one-stem wonders. So many flowers and so many colors!

    • I always felt that way about them too! But I heard an interesting thing while I was standing in line to get into Hasedera. The guy in front of me told me that you were never supposed to give hydrangeas to your girlfriend in a bouquet. The reason: their colors change over time, and this suggests that your heart will also change! Who knew?

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