During Japan’s rainy season, it drizzles with rain most days… but there is one bright spot, the hydrangeas are in full bloom at this time of year!
This photo was taken at Suo Amida-ji Temple in Yamaguchi prefecture, the hydrangea temple of the west, with its 80 varieties and 4,000 plants! Hydrangeas bloom everywhere around the temple, and even just a quick tour around takes 1-2 hours.
Do you happen to know the name of this hydrangea?
It’s ‘Sumida-no-hanabi’ (‘Sumida fireworks’).
Apparently, it got its name because its stalks are long and the flowers spread out in all directions like the famous fireworks shot over the Sumida River in Tokyo in summer.
This is right next to ‘Sumida-no-hanabi’…
The flower petals bend inwards, almost like spinning whirlpools. True to their appearance, they are named ‘Uzu’ (‘whirlpool’ or ‘swirl’). Apparently they are also called ‘Otafuku Azisai’ (‘Hyrdangea of good fortune’). Just by gazing at them I feel as if I’m being blessed…
Of course each of the 80 different varieties of hydrangea variety has a name in accordance with its appearance, form and history. As you go from flower to flower, time just flies by!
Suo Amida-ji Temple was established at the end of the Heian era! In addition to the hydrangeas there are plenty of other things to see, too.
Starting with the statue of Chogen (a nationally designated important cultural property) that has even been lent to the British Museum, and the iron hoto (national treasure), the temple is filled with invaluable historical cultural assets such as the temple gate, the main temple building, Nenbutsu-do Hall, Goma-do Hall, the sutra library and a public bath, which is my recommendation.
The steam bath was built during the Kamakura era and even now, on the first Sunday of every month, it’s heated up and you can actually enter (JPY300 per person).
While hydrangeas decorate the historical temple building that looks good in the rain, its numerous cultural assets have over 800 years of history behind them. Visiting the temple helps the gloomy mood of the rainy season slowly melt away.
While relaxing in this cozy atmosphere, it suddenly started pouring down. I’d like to hurry up and leave, but I can’t go before throwing a plate!
“kawarakenage” (‘pottery throwing’).
Write your wish on a piece of fired pottery and throw it through the loop (‘circle of fortune’). If you manage to get it through the loop, it is said that your wish will come true. It’s much harder than it looks!
The moment it goes through, it’s hard to believe how light your heart feels!
Oidemase! Come to Yamaguchi!
Todai-ji Temple’s Branch Temple Suo Amida-ji Temple
Established in 1187, since around 1975 hydrangeas have planted within the temple grounds, leading to it being called the hydrangea temple of the west. Among the temple’s some 4,000 hydrangea plants, there are currently 80 different varieties including hydrangea serrata and lacecap hydrangea, big leaf hydrangea, western hydrangea, hydrangea hirta and deutzia crenata. In June every year a hydrangea festival is held at the temple.
Address: 1869 Mure, Hofu city, Yamaguchi prefecture
URL: http://www.c-able.ne.jp/~amidaji/index.html (Japanese)
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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