Of hydrangeas and other matters…

Beautiful flowers, historic Shinto shrines, delicious street food, cold beer, and lots and lots of people. It’s the beginning of matsuri (festival) season in Japan, and that means many opportunities to experience Japanese culture.

Today, we visited the Bunkyo Ajisai Matsuri 2017, a festival featuring Ajisai (hydrangeas) in full bloom. A short ride on the Mita line to Hakusan station, it’s then a short walk to Hakusan Shrine. An important shrine built in the 8th century as a place to pray for a remedy for smallpox, today there are some 3,000 Ajisai plants in an array of colors.

This being our first visit, we wandered into the shrine area, and took a left turn to see the street food displays. Takoyaki, yakitori, and other food adds wonderful aromas to walk through.

Yakitori – grilled chicken on a stick – is a popular street food in Tokyo

We soon walked out of the Hakusan Shrine area and wandered to the Koishikawa Botanical Garden. Like most Tokyo gardens, this one charges admission — 400 yen per person. But it is a large garden, with an amazing variety of plants and trees. We saw traditional Japanese water gardens, and specimen plants from around the world, including Sequoyah trees and tulip poplars from the United States. It’s a beautiful and relaxing place.

After some time in the garden, we exited through a Japanese residential area. Small houses and apartments, narrow streets, no yards…just a quiet place to live. Most houses have container gardens around the front doors, with flowers and plants. Very different from what neighborhoods we are familiar with in the US.

We made our way slowly back to the main road, and back to Hakusan Shrine. Found another area of beautiful hydrangeas that we missed earlier. So many people taking pictures and just enjoying the nice spring weather.

After making our way to the subway station, we made a brief stop at Hibiya Park. Springtime Oktoberfest/Beer Garden is in full swing there, with many examples of good German beer. But we decided to call it a day and head for home. All in all, a nice first weekend of the matsuri season in Tokyo.P1040578

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My husband and I were both born and raised in Kansas, but for the past 20+ years we have been living in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, with our children grown and out of the house, we have the opportunity to spend two years living in Tokyo. My husband will be working with the Japanese counterpart to his American company. UPDATE 2023... After 4-1/2 years in Tokyo, we returned to Atlanta. Now we are heading to London for a three year job assignment!

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