Brighten up Japan’s rainy season with some beautiful blossoms

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Brighten up Japan’s rainy season with some beautiful blossoms

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

We’ve finally reached the middle of rainy season, aka “tsuyu” in Japanese, where not only is it raining a lot, but the heat and humidity might also be making you sweat buckets. For many, this is probably the worst of the four seasons in Japan, but I like this season because of all the beautiful flowers that bloom during it.

A walk through your neighborhood or local park will give you the opportunity to see the many irises (“shobu”), lotus (“hasu”) and hydrangea (“ajisai”) that only appear this time of year. Not as gorgeous or famous as the spring’s cherry blossoms, these modest and elegant beauties bring vivid colors to the drab overcast weather.


With plenty of water falling amid the early summer warmth, these three blossoms are in full bloom in mainland Japan, while irises and shell ginger (“gettou”) are blooming on Okinawa. In fact, flowering shell ginger heralds the rainy season on the southern islands; hydrangea embody the season on the mainland.

Hydrangea may be the top among these rainy-season blossoms in popularity, as you can see and enjoy them ubiquitously throughout the nation. The hydrangea’s  colors can vary from white, pink, violet and blue, and some gradually shift to different colors. Some change from pink to purple, while others from blue to violet or fade in intensity throughout the course of the 4- to 6-week season. Peak flower viewing season on Okinawa is mid-May to the end of June, while it runs from mid-June to early July on the mainland.

If you’re in Kanto Plain, I would suggest Hokone (Tozan Railway) and Kamakura Meigetsuin (Hydrangea Temple) for hydrangea viewing spots, while Sawara Iris Park and Yokosuka Shobu-en are popular iris viewing sites in the Kanto Plain.

We are in the gloomy season, yes, but it doesn’t actually rain every day. For example, the average number of rainy days in June is only 12 in the Kanto Plain, according to Japan Meteorological Agency. So, let’s grab our umbrellas and go out to check out these seasonal beauties.

And you know what? The rain makes these graceful blossoms seem all the more elegant!

(Recommended hydrangea viewing sites)

Hakone Tozan Railway

Kamakura Meigetuin (Hydrangea Temple)

(Recommended iris viewing sites)

Suigo Sawara Ayame Park

Yokosuka Shobu-en Iris Garden (Japanese)

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