Mt. Kasayama is located in Hagi city, Yamaguchi prefecture, but did you know that at the foot of the mountain you can find camellia japonica growing in the wild?
“There are places like that everywhere,” you may be thinking, I certainly thought so at first. However, the scale of Mt. Kasayama’s Camellia grove is a bit different – it’s probably far bigger than you imagine!
(Photograph provided by: Hagi photograph database)
Covering a 10ha area, there are around 25,000 camellia trees.
As Mt. Kasayama is located to the (unlucky) north-east of Hagi castle, up until the Edo period it was forbidden to harvest trees or shrubs, or hunt wildlife, which is why untouched primeval forest remains in the area. When the ban was lifted in the Meiji era and lumbering began, people began to spot camellia flowers growing in the wild among mixed trees in the grove. By maintaining and managing those camellia trees, they’ve reached their current state.
Nowadays, there’s even a trail set up that allows visitors to take a relaxing walk through the camellia forest.
Here and there on the trail you can see camellia flowers that have fallen in the wind. Due to this year’s (2016) wave of extremely cold air, the flowers began wilting early, but the area is truly a place of hidden beauty.
The contrast between the sandy soil and the moss is beautiful, too; it’s almost as if the decaying flowers are showing off their last glory. If you take a closer look at the fallen flowers, you can see that there are many varieties.
The round one on the right is camellia, too. It’s a variety known as “Omi no tsubaki” (‘Large-fruited camellia’), and in summer it produces bright red fruit that resembles apples.
This one is “Hagi-komachi”. It is said that this variety with its cute light crimson flowers has been here since the camellia grove was first discovered.
As the camellia trees growing in the forest are very tall, you can’t see the flowers at standpoint. If you look up, the leaves and branches of the camellia trees spread out almost as if they are covering up the whole sky.
However, at 13m above ground there’s an observation deck from where you can admire the vast camellia grove.
Beyond the forest is the sea. The blue of the sky is combined with the green of the trees, and the green is dotted with the crimson of camellia flowers. The scenery is so wonderful that I let out a sigh without thinking…
The Sea of Japan is located near the camellia grove. On the day of our visit the sea was so calm you’d have thought it was the Seto Inland Sea… We also spotted some fishermen looking for shellfish and seaweed in the shallows.
The Hagi Camellia festival is held when the flowers are in bloom from mid-February to March. At that time you can enjoy the indescribable feeling of everyday Hagi life coexisting with the extraordinary.
Oidemase! Come to Yamaguchi!
Mt. Kasayama Camellia Grove (designated a natural monument by the municipality)
Located in the northernmost area of Mt. Kasayama, a grove of 25,000 camellia trees in 60 different varieties are in full bloom. Every year the Hagi Camellia festival is held in the area, usually from the 3rd Sunday of February until the last Sunday of March). During this period, various events are held, such as guided tours showing the highlights of the camellias. You can also purchase local specialties.
Location: Chinto, Hagi city, Yamaguchi prefecture
Inquiries: 0838-25-1750 (Hagi city tourism association)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masafumi Fujimoto
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
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