Hydrangea Temple in Chiba feasts your eyes in rainy season

Photos by Ichiro Katayanagi
Photos by Ichiro Katayanagi

Hydrangea Temple in Chiba feasts your eyes in rainy season

by Ichiro Katayanagi
Stripes Japan

In most parts of mainland Japan, the rainy season begins in early June and continues through to the end of July. This time of year is always humid, hot and stuffy even when it is not raining.

For many, this may be one with little to desire, except for one: the annual bloom of hydrangea. It may be cloudy and steamy, but these brilliant flowers are a feast for the eyes!

As you make your way around Japan, you’ll notice that many temples here have plenty of hydrangeas blossoming in multitude of colors. In the old days, prior to advances in medicine, many suffered or died from disease during the rainy season due to the fluctuations in temperatures. To mourn the deceased, many temples planted hydrangeas and the tradition continues today not as a symbol of mourning but as one of beauty in an otherwise unpleasant season.

Last season, I visited Hondoji Temple in Matsudo City, Chiba. This is known as the hydrangea temple or flowers of the four season’s temple as it has 100 cherry trees, 1,500 maples, 5,000 irises, and 50,000 hydrangeas on its extensive grounds covering more than three hectares. Hydrangea is designated as one of Matsudo City’s official flowers.

The day I made my visit, it was cloudy but not rainy. I walked from the nearest station, JR Kita-Kogane Station for about five minutes before I reached the temple. Along the way, the path was lined with giant pine and cedar trees and there were restaurants and souvenir shops. I stopped in at Kuromonya, a farmer-operated shop selling toasted dumplings, sweet buns, pickles, and fresh vegetables harvested that morning.  I bought some pickles to have later with rice.

Once I made it to the temple, I could see it was surrounded by hydrangeas of many colors. I did not have to struggle or make a line to get photographs as there were plenty for all the visitors to enjoy. Blue, white, pink, and purple, those colorful flowers not only softened my heart but also bolstered up my spirits.

Visit for the hydrangeas but don’t forget to check out the rest of the temple grounds for its abundance of nature and historical buildings dating back to the Edo era (1603-1868) like the Niomon Gate.

This season may not be the most fun weather-wise, but the hydrangeas it brings along with it might make you change your mind!

GETTING THERE 

Address: 63 Hiraga, Matsudo City, Chiba
Hours: Visit their website or call ahead for up-to-date hours
Tel: 047-346-2121
Website

 

The other famous hydrangea temples in the Kanto Plain

<Ibaraki>
Rakuhouji Temple

Website 

<Kanagawa>
Meigetsuin Temple

Website

Jojuin Temple
Website

Hasedera Temple
Website

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