Thursday, 12 July 2012

Early summer, the cool blue of Ajisai (Hydrangea) at Sanzen-in

Summer in Kyoto is getting hotter and hotter every day! Time to take a 'hike' and look for higher ground. Ohara, in the north part of Kyoto is up in the mountains and at least a few degrees 'colder'. Pfieuw I need a bit of that! So, on a sweltering hot day I thought it best to leave the busy city behind and visit this lush green side of Kyoto. Early summer, we've established now, the weather in Japan is very hot already. But it's also the time for Ajisai. This is the Japanese name for Hydrangea.

Ohara is famous for their Sanzen-in temple every day of the year, but even more so when the Ajisai are in bloom. What a wonderful combination when being all flustered and sticky with the summer heat to gaze upon the cool blue of Hydrangea flowers. Although I must admit under the piercing sun even the Ajisai seemed a bit listless in the garden of Sanzen-in. And to think I even 'dressed up' for the occasion, with my Ajisai-coloured nail polish!

Luckily the temple itself is wonderful, and I especially liked the charming little, moss covered Buddha statues with their smiling faces. Or what about a good taste of red Shiso juice I got for free in the garden? Shiso is one of my favorite flavours of Japan. A leaf belonging to the mint family, often served with sashimi dishes has a very unique and distinctive taste. If you've never tried it, find them, it's delicious! If you prefer a saver taste, you can drink green tea and peer over the blue ripples of Hydrangea beneath the tea house.

The Sanzen-in is not even the only thing to see at Ohara. It's got quite a 'touristy feel', this part of town, but only busy on special days. For instance Ohara-me, a festival I wrote about in this article in May. Because of the numerous tourists Ohara attracts through the year, many traditional Japanese restaurants grace the small, cobbled streets where Yuzu (an amazing tasting citrus fruit), red Shiso and other yummy food can be tasted. If you're a fan of Tsukemono (Japanese pickles), Ohara is a good place to stroll through and get a nibble here and there.

Mimuroto-ji temple in Uji, to the south of Kyoto, is also very famous for their Ajisai as well as the Lotus garden. When I went to Mimurotoji however, the Hydrangea were over their peak and many bushes already trimmed. I read that at this temple 10.000 Hydrangea bushes grow. Surprisingly, when I was there visitors were not even allowed to go into that part of the garden were the Hydrangea were still blooming.... But I could look into the garden and take a few snap shots. It does look promising doesn't it?

Later this  month I will post an article about the Lotus garden of Mimuroto-ji.


  1. Wij zijn twee jaar geleden ook hier geweest. Tot wanneer zijn jullie daar blijven? Ik zal vanaf eind augustus tot mid. september in Tokio zijn.
    uit Alkmaar

    1. Wat leuk! De 27ste ben ik weer terug. Jammer dat we niet gelijk in Japan waren :)

  2. thanks for sharing.

  3. The flowers were beautiful and the place looks so peaceful. I love it!

  4. Hmmm... Maybe I should try visit Japan next time ans see this beautiful place for myself.

  5. I love to visit the temple next time.

  6. pretty flowers and a great temple. Nice!

  7. These places are so lovely! Japan is wonderful for having these naturally-beautified places. So good to be there.