Gifts from the rainy season: Hydrangea
Lately I stepped on a number of articles suggesting to avoid visiting Japan during the rainy season and I was extremely surprised because me and Husband we are enjoying it a lot.
The rainy season brings lots of activities, stunning sceneries and beautiful colors. Moreover, unlike the Japanese summer, temperatures are comfortable and humidity at decent levels. To make a long story short the rainy season is one of my favorite times of the year along with Autumn and New Year Holidays. The only thing to keep in mind is that it can rain anytime so always bring an umbrella with you otherwise you might get wet or forced to spend a couple of hours in a cafeteria or in a department store until the rain stops (and actually it might be a fun time anyway).
Last Saturday I went with Husband to Kamakura. Kamakura is famous for its temples and shrines and during the rainy season it is also a popular destination to enjoy the view of hydrangeas, [紫陽花] ajisai in Japanese ; one temple in particular takes the beauty of these flowers to higher levels, Meigetsuin [明月院], also known as Ajisaidera, Hydrangea Temple.
Meigetsuin is a short walk away from Kita Kamakura Station and during the rainy season it is covered with blooming hydrangeas of an incredibly wide variety of colors and shades. They go from delicate white to intense blue and purple. If it is raining the small drops of rain on the petals will give an additional touch of magic to the scenery.
Besides hydrangeas I also had a hidden agenda in Kamakura, I wanted to taste the famous hydrangea shaped wagashi made by the confectionery shop named Komaki [御菓子司こまき]. Wagashi are Japanese sweets served traditionally during the tea ceremony, they can be made of rice flour, sweet beans paste or fruit and usually they are eaten before drinking the tea because their sweetness will counter the bitterness of matcha. Komaki shop is right outside Kita Kamakura station but once you step in you will forget you are in modern Japan, the atmosphere, the furniture, the view of the pond from the window and of course the sweets and green tea will bring you in traditional Japan in no time.
The store produces and sells high quality wagashi and prepares a delicate matcha for its customers and it is particularly famous for its hydrangea wagashi that can be enjoyed only in June as they are produced only during the hydrangea season. Made with white beans paste and covered with colorful jelly cubes these sweets are a joy for the eyes and a treat to the palate.
If you like to try these sweets I recommend going early because they produce only a limited amount per day and they run out pretty quickly.
Directions: the easiest way to get to Kamakura from Tokyo Station is to take the JR Yokosuka Line that stops also in Shinagawa and Yokohama, the trip takes one hour, costs 920円 and it is free if you have a Japan Rail Pass.
If you like to read more about the rainy season in Japan I recommend reading The Rainy Season in Japan – Vocabulary. またね！
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