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Japan has entered the “tsuyu,” or “rainy season,” which lasts about one month starting in the middle of June.

While the season puts a damper on many outdoor activities, it’s not all bad: farmers welcome the season as it gives their paddies sufficient water for planting rice. If it doesn’t rain enough, many districts have difficulty planting rice.

Then there are also the many flowers that soak up what the season has to offer. One of them is the hydrangea, in Japanese called “Ajisai.” The plant is also sometimes called Nanabake, meaning “seven transformations or metamorphoses,” because it changes its color seven times. Ajisai grow almost all over the country and at about 5-and-a-half feet tall, are regarded as some of the most beautiful flowering bushes. The colors change from green and yellow to a blue and almost purple. It is believed the hydrangea changes colors in different soils.

Kamakura, near Yokosuka Naval Base, has two famous temples for hydrangea in the north and south. One is Meigetsuin Temple at Kita- (north) Kamakura, and the other is Hase Temple at Hase in south Kamakura.

Meigetsuin Temple in Kita-Kamakura is nicknamed “Ajisai-dera,” for “Hydrangea Temple.” The compound fills with 3,000 bushes of hydrangea flowers in June. The temple is houses just one kind of hydrangea, with blue flowers said to fit the rainy season.

The temple was in 1160 by Yamanouchi Tsunetoshi for the repose of the soul of his father Toshimichi, who died in the Battle of Heiji.

The other must-see-spot for hydrangea is Hase-dera, or “Hase Temple,” in southern Kamakura City. The temple’s hydrangea are different colors - red, blue, while and purple. They have 2,300 bushes of hydrangea. The flowers are planted along the hills at the back of the temple. The view of the flowers from the bottor or top of the hill is gorgeous.

It is said that a Buddhist monk, Domyo, established a temple in the mountain in the early 8th century and his disciple erected Jyuichimen kan’non and the Hase-dera Temple. In the precincts of the temple, there is a garden with flowers blooming throughout the year.

If you go

Meigetsuin Temple is a 10-minute walk from JR Yokosuka Line’s Kita Kamakura station.

The temple is from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Admission is 300 yen; 0467-24-3437

The Hase Temple is a 3-minute walk from Enoshima Dentetsu’s Hase Station.

It is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Admission is 300 yen; 0467-22-6300

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