From mid-April to mid-May, it seems like there are bright pink bushes whipping by the train window everywhere you go in Tokyo, but there are a few special places that just beg you to take the kind of snaps that make everyone scream “I want to go to there!”
Here are my favorite places to take azalea photos in Tokyo…
They’re BACK and better than ever this year! Last year the legendary azaleas at the Nezu Shrine were struck with a perfect storm of misfortune, but they’re making it up this year by being extra-spectacular.
Open: Every day, 9:00-17:00
JINDAI BOTANICAL PARK
This is a new discovery that’s a little ways outside of metro Tokyo (in Chofu) but it’s well worth the trek!
SHIOFUNE KANNON-JI TEMPLE
This one is also not actually in metro Tokyo – it’s out in Ome, which is about an hour and a half from Shinjuku Station – but as you can see, it’s well worth the trip during azalea season!
To get there, plug your nearest station into the Train Finder or download a free Japan Travel mobile app to your phone (I use Navitime Japan Travel) with Kabe Station as the destination.Getting to Shiofunekannon-ji Temple without a car takes about 1.5 hours by train, then it’s about a 35-minute walk to the temple entrance. Or you can take a bus from the station – the one bound for Nishi-Tokyo Danshi – and walk 10 minutes from the Shiofune Kannon-iriguchi bus stop.
Another newly-discovered azalea spot is closer to metro Tokyo:
SHOWA KINEN PARK
This giant park is in Tachikawa, about an hour from Shinjuku Station, and although it’s a long way to go just to see the azalea hedge, it’s such a big park, there’s a lot more to see than just what’s famously in season. For example, at the same time the azaleas are blooming, you can catch the tail end of the “Flower Festival”:
But of course, there are plenty of spectacular places to see azaleas just a short train ride away from anywhere in Tokyo. For example…
NI NO MARU, Imperial Palace East Garden
Open: 9:00-17:00, closed Mondays & Fridays
Open: Every day, 9:00-17:00
If you’re anything like me, maybe you’re wondering why cherry blossoms are such a big deal when azaleas can look like this. So I asked one of my Japanese friends the question…
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A wonderful blend of history and mystery.” —Laura Joh Rowland, author of The Iris Fan
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!