Every June, Tokyo bursts into a radiant display of vibrant hues, courtesy of the annual Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival. Known as Ajisai Matsuri this celebration of the rainy season captures the heart of Japan’s aesthetic appreciation for transient beauty and is nothing short of a botanical spectacle.
When Rain and Color Collide
Hosted in the Bunkyo Ward of Tokyo, the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival is a joyful homage to the blooming hydrangeas (known as “ajisai” in Japanese) that symbolize the rainy season. The two key venues, Hakusan Shrine and Hakusan Park, are transformed into living art exhibits, boasting over 3,000 hydrangea plants and more than 20 different varieties.
The 2023 Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival
In 2023, the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival will run for its 39th time and commence on June 10th and continue till June 18th, providing a full nine days of floral splendor. As in previous years, there will be a number of additional attractions alongside the display of beautiful hydrangeas. Guided tours, tea ceremonies, and live performances are among the many events visitors can anticipate.
A Quick Note On The Japan Rail Pass Price Hike
The price of the wonderful Japan Rail Pass is going up a massive 62% in October but there’s still time to lock in the old rates if you’re quick. Klook still offers the old prices so if you buy before September 30th you can travel with the old prices until December 28th, 2023.
Of Gods and Flowers
The Hakusan Shrine has been the central stage for the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival since the Edo period. Legend has it that a divine revelation led to the shrine’s establishment and the consequent planting of hydrangeas. Today, the shrine’s divine association and the festival’s remarkable history lend a spiritual aura to the vibrant floral festivity.
A Kaleidoscope of Colors
From the soft hues of budding flowers to the intense tones of full blooms, the festival offers an ever-changing panorama. The hydrangeas, depending on the pH of the soil, produce a captivating array of colors — pinks, blues, purples, and whites — ensuring a different spectacle at every turn.
The Ajisai Road
The walk from Hakusan Station to the shrine, fondly called “Ajisai Road,” is a delightful experience, as both sides of the path are adorned with blooming hydrangeas. The floral tunnel not only offers the perfect photo ops but also leads visitors into a world where urban Tokyo meets its vibrant floral heart.
More than Just Viewing
The festival isn’t merely about viewing the hydrangeas. Various events are organized throughout the festival period, including guided tours that provide insights into the different types of hydrangeas and the unique characteristics of each. Additionally, the tea ceremony events hosted in the serene environment of the Hakusan Park add a cultural touch to the floral fest.
Reaching the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival is quite simple. The event is held at Hakusan Shrine and Hakusan Park, located within close proximity to Hakusan Station.
By Bus: From Ueno Station, you can take the Tokyo Metropolitan bus (上46) to the Hakusan 1-chome stop. From there, Hakusan Shrine is a mere 3-minute walk away.