Let’s just start with the premise that, if you are anything like me, you probably have the green thumb of a two-year-old who is capable of killing a cactus with ease. Yet even a person with zero floral aptitude has to admit that in Japan there is a special appreciation for flowers and plants that is hard to miss and oddly captivating.
Picture the way different flowers are associated with different times of the year, creating anticipation and even yearning for the flavors associated with the season in such goods as foods and cakes.
This is particularly true for ajisai, the Japanese name for the hydrangea, which you likely ignored before coming to Japan.
While many flowers are associated with spring and sunshine, this flower, which presents itself in its multi-color pastel variations, is a treat of the rainy season in Japan, or the months of June and July.
Sometimes whole gardens in Japan will be dedicated to ajisai, which can range from shades of white to deep blues, with delicate pale greens, lilacs, pinks, and purples in the mix.
One such garden is that of Mimuroto-ji temple, in Uji, Kyoto, which is also known as the temple of flowers.
On June 11, Mimuroto-ji unveiled the yearly lighting up of the temple garden, which showcases ajisai. In the light evening rain, passers-by could enjoy the somewhat melancholy and softly-colored sight of white and blue flowers lightly touched by warm summer rain.
The garden features more than 50 variations of flowers, for a total of more than 20,000 different strains. In 2020, because the rain has been quite scarce, the flowers are unusually intact, and visitors to the temple should be able to enjoy flower viewing until the end of June.
The priest of Mimuroto-ji Temple, Mitsuyasu Itami, 77, shared his vision with The Sankei Shimbun, saying, “I would like for the light installation to brighten the feelings of those affected by the coronavirus.”
The temple garden will be lit up on Saturdays and Sundays from June 13 to June 28, during the hours of 7 P.M. to 8.30 P.M. The cost is ¥800 JPY for high school students and older, and ¥400 JPY for middle school students or younger.
In case you think you lack even an ounce of appreciation for plants, you should pay a visit to Mimuroto-ji. You might just find these rainy season gardens in Uji delightfully inspiring.
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(Click here to read the story in its original Japanese.)
Author: JAPAN Forward