The Cherry Blossom Festival is Followed by the Hydrangea Festival
June and July see the hydrangea festival season in Japan, heralding the arrival of summer. This is a spectacular festival of flowers, of which many visitors are unaware.
The Cherry Blossom festival is well known, even outside Japan, but few are aware of the Hydrangea Festival of Flowers, a festival which signifies the arrival of summer.
Festivals in Japan During June
Hydrangeas blossom profusely in some parts of the world, yet have to be nurtured like delicate flowers in others. In Japan the hydrangea blossoms profusely, and in mid-to-late June, the season of the ajisai (hydrangea), is in full swing.
All over the country there are ajisai-dera (hydrangea temples) and below is a list of the best known, which visitors to Tokyo may like to see.
Fujinomori-jinja Shrine: This shrine has special relevance to anyone who is a fan of horse-racing. It is a shrine where people come to pray for their horse to be the winner of a race. It is an interesting place to visit at any time of year, but during the hydrangea season it is especially attractive.
Kamakura: Less than one hour by train from Tokyo, Kamakura makes an interesting day trip. It was established in 1192 and was once the seat of a feudal government. Today it is noted for its historic sites, its beautiful temples, its shrines and its beaches.
Hase-dera Temple: with great views of Kamakura City and is well known for its Hydrangea Pathways.
Kyoto: Kyoto has two of the most famous temples for hydrangeas and the gorgeous blooms attract many visitors during June.
Sanzen-in Temple. Famous for its garden and located in the Ohara, a village north of Kyoto. It is a great place to visit any time of the year, but during the hydrangea season it is spectacular.
Meigetsu-in Temple. A famous beauty spot in which to see hydrangeas.
24-25 July – Tenjin Matsuri, Tenmangu-jinja, Osaka
Expect to see some 3,000 people dressed in the old Imperial Court style of the 8th-12th centuries as they march beside portable shrines in this, one of Japan’s 3 major festivals.
Highlight of the festival is the boat procession when the same 3,000 people board some 100 boats and sail upstream while dances are performed on a lantern lit floating stage in the middle of the river.
28th July – Firework Display at Sumida River in Asakusa.
This is Tokyo’s biggest fireworks festival and the grandest in the country. The display is held on the Sumida River where stalls selling Japanese festival snacks and sake add to the party atmosphere.
28-29th July – Belly Button Festival, Furano
The Hokkaido Belly Button Dance (Heso Odori) is something that began about 35 years ago when festival organizers came up with the idea of a dance featuring the belly button, in which the dancers make their “heso” (belly button) into a face with paint and props.
Over the years this has become one of the most famous summer festivals in Hokkaido, drawing people from around the world. Last year, over 5,000 people participated in the 2-day dance for prizes and glory, and thousands more watched.