Unveiling Two Hidden Gem Temples and a One-day Hydrangea Temple Tour in Kamakura, Japan
Beautiful hydrangeas in Japan
Kamakura is a beloved ancient city, drawing visitors from both within Japan and around the world.
It boasts a wealth of diverse attractions, from historic temples and shrines to beautiful gardens, beaches, and delicious local cuisine.
Often referred to as ‘Little Kyoto’, Kamakura provides the perfect setting for experiencing Japan’s traditional culture and history.
It’s home to numerous famous religious sites, including the Great Buddha of Kamakura and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.
Visitors can also enjoy the changing landscapes throughout the seasons, with many flocking to see the spring cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.
As much as the cherry blossoms and autumn colors draw crowds, the period from late May to June sees Kamakura blanketed in hydrangeas.
Numerous temples, known as ‘hydrangea temples’ or ‘Ajisai-dera’, feature hundreds to thousands of stunning hydrangea bushes within their grounds.
Hydrangeas, like cherry blossoms, are familiar flowers to the Japanese, and various types of these flowers can be seen throughout the city.
In this special feature, we are thrilled to introduce you to two extraordinary temples, Meigetsu-in and Chōju-ji (or Chōjuzen-ji), as well as provide a one-day itinerary that includes a selection of beautiful hydrangea temples to visit during this blooming season!
Meigetsu-in: Kamakura’s Hidden Gem Illuminated by Hydrangeas
When we think of hydrangea temples in Kamakura, this one surely comes to mind. Tracing its roots back to the mid-12th century, Meigetsu-in is a quintessential representation of such temples.
It proudly showcases around 2,500 hydrangea bushes of various types, which bloom beautifully throughout the temple grounds.
It’s said that shortly after World War II, hydrangea cuttings were started to soothe the hearts of visitors.
Particularly noteworthy is the ‘Hime Ajisai’, an ancient Japanese variety of hydrangea.
Its soft blue flowers are so distinct that they’re referred to as ‘Meigetsu-in Blue’.
Normally not open to the public, the garden behind the main hall offers a charming view through a round window, reminiscent of the moon.
This special view, along with the garden, is only accessible during the iris bloom and autumn foliage seasons.
The round window, in keeping with the temple’s name ‘Meigetsu-in’ which translates to ‘bright moon’, certainly brings to mind an image of a full moon.
This window is often referred to as ‘the window of enlightenment’, said to reflect one’s own heart.
At the height of the hydrangea blooming season or in the peak of autumn foliage, the line of people waiting to capture a photo of this round window can get quite long.
Moreover, the temple also features a karesansui or ‘dry landscape’ garden, showcasing an array of traditional Japanese charms all within this single location.
Basic Information of Meigetsu-in:
- Regular closing day: None, Open every day
- Opening hours: 9: 00 – 16: 00 (8: 30 – 17: 00 in June)
- Admission: 300 yen. 500 yen in June (special admission to the garden in June and fall foliage season * additional 500 yen is required)
Choju-ji: Finding Inner Peace in the Serene Gardens of Chouju-ji
Established in 1336, Choju-ji Temple is a historical gem teeming with centuries of tradition and spiritual reverence.
Notably, it only opens its doors for limited periods throughout the year, transforming each visit into a rare and special occasion (see details below).
Surrounded on all sides by a meticulously curated garden, Choju-ji is a sanctuary of serenity and natural beauty.
Here, the gentle rustling of leaves and the sweet chorus of birdsong blend into a symphony of tranquility, creating an atmosphere that purifies the soul and invites inner peace.
Beyond its celebrated hydrangeas, the temple’s garden offers a vibrant display of flora that changes with the turning of the seasons.
As you stroll through this botanical haven, you will find yourself immersed in a palette of colors and fragrances, each telling a different tale of time and transition.
From the radiant blossoms of spring to the fiery foliage of autumn, Choju-ji’s garden remains a spectacle of nature’s artistry year-round.
Visiting Choju-ji Temple is not, in essence, a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
It is a journey to the heart of traditional Japan, where history, culture and nature intertwine to create an experience that nourishes the mind and entertains the senses, and a unique time to look at your inner world.
Basic Information of Choju-ji:
- Opening: Limited to seasons and days of the week
- Spring: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays from April to June
- Autumn: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from October to November
- December: Daily from 1st to 7th
- Opening hours: 10:00 – 15:00 (canceled if it rains)
- Admission: 300 yen
- Parking: None
Tips for Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are originally from Japan, but there’s an interesting story behind how they became known worldwide.
It is said that Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold, who visited Nagasaki, discovered these beautiful flowers and named them “Otakusa” after his beloved, Otaki.
He was so captivated by their charm that he introduced them to other countries.
Over time, hydrangeas gained popularity in the West and were later brought back to Japan through various breeding techniques.
Now, they are cherished both in their homeland and around the world.
Did you know that the color of hydrangea flowers can change based on the acidity of the soil?
It’s true! The same plant can produce flowers in different shades, from pink to blue or even purple, depending on the pH level of the soil it’s grown in.
If the soil is more acidic, the flowers tend to be blue, while alkaline soil results in pink or purple blooms.
Isn’t it fascinating how nature can create such beautiful variations?
Next time you see a hydrangea, remember that its color might just be a reflection of the soil it calls home!
One-day Hydrangea Temple Tour in Kamakura
We propose a one-day tour that takes you around the renowned hydrangea temples, truly some of Kamakura’s finest!
Kamakura’s recommended Hydrangea Temple Tour Map
The purple footmark icons are the recommended Ajisai(Hydrangea) Temples!
Hi! I’m an enthusiastic Kimono consultant, the manager of Project Japan. Beyond work, I love kimonos, relaxing in onsens, exploring music, and traveling. When it comes to food, I have a soft spot for traditional Japanese cuisine and enjoy Japanese sake, wine, whiskey, and coffee.
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