In Japan, there is a rainy season in June before summer begins. But there is one bright spot to this muggy month: ajisai あじさい, or hydrangeas, in bloom. Walking in the rain can be a joy when you spot these vivid clusters dotting the streets and alleyways. First cultivated in Japan, hydrangeas are the perfect cure for rainy day blues and widely admired for their ability to bloom in the rain.
Near Tokyo, popular ajisai viewing spots include Kamakura, Enoshima, Odawara and Hakone. However, today I am sharing a local gem in Mobara City, Chiba Prefecture, only 2 hours from Tokyo.
Hattori Farm looks like an ordinary farmer’s house. But it stands in front of a small hill that is covered in a carpet of hydrangeas. From the gate, the slope looks like a Monet watercolour painting of purple, blue, pink and white. From the inside, it is a sea of hydrangeas from every angle. There are over 10,000 hydrangeas in this garden - simply hydrangeas wonderland! Another magical property of hydrangeas is that you can change the colour of the flowers by changing the acidity of the soil: when the soil is acidic, it blooms blue, and when the soil is alkaline, it blooms pink!
And now here are my favourite photos from this magical land with all the practical information on how to get there at the end. Please enjoy!
Name and address: Hattori Farm Hydrangea Mansion (Hattori-noen Ajisai-yashiki or 服部農園あじさい屋敷) at 〒297-0042 Chiba-ken, Mobara-shi, Sangaya, 719 (website)
To get here: Take the train to JR Mobara Station (about 1.5h from Tokyo Station, use Hyperdia to plan your journey). From Mobara Station (there is a taxi stand), it is a 10 min taxi ride (1,500-2,000 yen) to the garden. On the way back, taxis are harder to come by so I suggest making friend with your taxi driver and asking him/her to come back at an agreed time to take you back to the station or call a taxi (again ask taxi driver for phone number).
Opening hours are 8am-6pm in June and July. Recommend staying for 1-2 hours here. Admission fee is 500 yen.
Did you know?
Hydrangeas look more beautiful and plump after rain
Hydrangeas are moisture-loving plants (hence the Hydra in their name). On hot summer days, the plants lose water through their large leaf surfaces, and this happens faster than the roots are able to take up water to replace what is evaporating. The result is wilting foliage. Once the sun sets or after some rain, the plant recovers and the flowers become fuller and more plump.
Hydrangeas have a darker (poisonous) side
These beautiful hydrangeas are mildly toxic to humans and animals;. The buds, flowers and leaves contain cyanogenic glycosides (related to the poison, cyanide), and if absorbed by the body, will cause nausea, vomiting, and/or dizziness. You would need to eat a large quantity of these for the effects to become serious so do not worry, I was not harmed in taking these photos ;) But please do keep an eye on your children and pets if you go see hydrangeas.
What flowers bloom in your city during the summer? Leave me a comment to let me know!