| Jonh Asano
Brighten up the Rainy Season with the Hydrangeas of Gifu
Hydrangeas are considered the symbol of the rainy season in Japan with their vibrant colors bringing a bit of joy during all the rain. Called ajisai (紫陽花) in Japanese, hydrangeas are native to East Asia and typically bloom from mid to late June in central Japan. Gifu with its plethora of nature spots is one of the best places in Japan to enjoy their mystical beauty.
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Symbol of the Rainy Season
The rainy season, known as tsuyu (梅雨) in Japanese is the best time to get out and experience the hydrangeas. In fact, the more rain the better! The rain is actually beneficial to the flowers, giving them a deeper color. It is also extremely mystical to see them with spots of rain on the flowers and in the morning mist. Here are some cool places in Gifu to admire the beautiful hydrangeas of central Japan.
The Long and Colorful Hydrangea Road of Itadori
The picturesque Hydrangea Road along the Itadori River in Seki City is a 24-kilometer-long stretch of road that is lined with around 10,000 hydrangeas. A great starting point is the Itadori Ajisai Village.
The drive along the tight winding mountain road is breathtaking with stunning views of the turquoise blue Itadori River and the blue, purple, pink and white flowers of the hydrangeas creating a pretty picture.
Make sure you stop by Monet’s Pond which is a must-see attraction in the area.
How to Get There?
The best way to view the Hydrangea Road is by car. Take the Tokai Hokuriku Expressway to the Mino IC. It is around an hour from there to Itadori. You can find plenty of parking at the Itadori Ajisai Village.
Sankoji Temple in Yamagata City
Sankoji Temple in the Miyama area of Yamagata City in Gifu Prefecture is a mountain temple that comes alive with a splash of color during the rainy season with its beautiful hydrangeas. This temple is a little off the beaten track and mostly only known by the locals but is definitely worth a visit.
The temple is called “Ajisai no Yamadera” in Japanese, which means mountain temple of hydrangeas, and it certainly lives up to its name with around 8,000 hydrangeas planted on its sacred grounds. The best time to see them is from mid-June to early July, when the hydrangea festival is on.
The highlights for me were the water feature with hydrangeas and the koi filled pond which is surrounded by colorful hydrangeas.
How to Get There?
The temple is a little difficult to get to without a car, but you can catch a bus from Meitetsu Gifu Station on the Gihoku Line to the Tominaga Bus Stop, which is a five-minute walk from the temple. If you come by car, there is a small parking area at the temple which can accommodate around 20 cars. Parking is free.
The Sai River Embankment in Sunomata
Around 3,800 hydrangeas can be found along the Sai River embankment near Sunomata Castle in Ogaki.
The road along the river from the castle is known as the “Sunomata Hydrangea Road” and is the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll amongst the beautiful hydrangeas. You will find a range of colors here from deep purple and blue to light pink and white. The hydrangeas are in full bloom typically from mid to late June.
At the foot of Sunomata Castle near the Sai River is a wonderful collection of hydrangeas in a variety of colors.
How to Get There?
Take a bus on the Obusa Sunomata Line heading towards Sunomata from platform 6 at JR Gifu Station in Gifu City. Get off at the Sunomata Bus Stop. It should take around 35 minutes and cost ¥510. If you come by car, there is a small parking spot right in front of the castle which can accommodate around 5 to 6 cars.
Tsukimi no Mori in Kaizu
Tsukimi no Mori in Kaizu is home to a 37.5ha nature park that is the perfect place to get outdoors and enjoy the seasonal flowers of Japan. Over 10,000 hydrangeas and cherry blossoms have been planted within the boundaries of the park.
The name Tsukimi no Mori means “moon viewing forest” in English and the park is considered to be one of Japan’s Top 100 Moon Viewing Spots. The beautiful hydrangeas can be enjoyed in June at the stunning hydrangea garden, where you can walk around various nature trails which are located throughout the park.
The short uphill walk from the parking area is along a road lined with different colored hydrangeas. At the half-way point you reach a stunning water feature and an amazing set of steps that is the most instagrammable spot in the whole park.
For a fantastic view, climb the 258 steps of the Stairway to the Moon to be rewarded with panoramic views of the Nobi Plain from the lookout deck.
After all the walking, make sure you soak your tired feet at Suisho no Yu Hot Spring that is located within the park.
How to Get There?
The entrance to the park is about a 16-minute walk from Komano Station on the Yoro Railway. There is also plenty of free parking for anyone visiting by car.
Rainy days in Japan don’t need to be dreary. Brighten up the rainy season by enjoying the beauty and mystery of the colorful hydrangeas of Gifu. Don’t let the rain put you off from visiting central Japan during this colorful time of the year.
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