Jun 20, 2019
Usually from the beginning of June to mid-July the rainy season (in Japanese, "tsuyu") affects most parts of Japan. Two exceptions are Okinawa (where tsuyu begins in May) and northern Japan (Hokkaido, Tohoku) were it is way later than in other parts of Japan. During the rainy season it doesn't rain every day but the weather is very unstable, from a very sunny hot days to a very cold rainy days, all is possible. That's why many people avoid traveling around during the season.
One of the good points of the rainy season in Japan is the beautiful flowers which bloom only in June. Hydrangea and iris are the most popular and you will find them pretty much everywhere. In particular hydrangea is the typical rainy season flower and many parks and traditional Japanese gardens have different kinds and colors of the flower.
Around Tokyo the most famous spots for beautiful hydrangea gardens are most of the temples in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, like the Hasedera or Meigetsuin Temple, and Hondoji Temple in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture.
Since I've been to Kamakura very often, I wanted to try out a new spot and decided to go to Matsudo, a city really close to Tokyo but mostly known only by locals. Hondoji Temple can be reached from Tokyo by JR Joban Line (or Chiyoda Subway Line, which will change to the Joban line). Get off at Kita-Kogane Station and walk around 10 minutes north. A small street with different kinds of local food and small restaurants will lead you to the temple area.
The Buddhist temple Hondoji was founded in 1269. Since then it is a very nice spot to see hydrangea flowers in their huge garden. The temple area itself is really impressive, with many old wood temple buildings, a huge five-story pagoda and the red Deva Gate, which is the entrance of the park area.
After paying an entrance fee of 500 yen (children 300 yen) you will get a small prospect about the history of the area and the seasonal flowers (English is available).
Right after the entrance you will find yourself standing in front of the beautiful five-storied pagoda, which stands on a little hill surrounded by different kinds of hydrangea. Also, the main temple building is just right behind the entrance, but for most of the people the main reason to visit the temple is the beautiful garden, which is behind the main building.
After walking to the smaller Garden of Hydrangea you will reach a small pond where you can see around 5,000 irises bloom only in June and only for a few days. Unfortunately you need to be very lucky to see both at the same time. During my visit all irises were already gone.
There are also several benches for taking a rest around the pond and to enjoy the green nature. Right behind the pond is the Zoshi-do (Hall of Nichiro Shonin) where you can find a statue of Nichizo Shonin who is enshrined with Kishimojin (Mother of Devil). After WWII, orphaned children were raised at a house in the temple area.
The main garden for seeing hydrangea also has a small pond, several temple buildings and a small pagoda. You can walk between many small narrow walkways and explore the garden. Especially in June, when everything is blooming in different colors, it is a really nice walk. Also, on a rainy day it is a nice experience to walk around the rainy season flowers.
The park at Hondoji Temple is also very beautiful during other seasons like for watching cherry blossom in March, wisteria in April, or the great red Japanese maple in autumn.
It was my first visit to Hondoji Temple and I was really impressed. The whole temple area was way bigger than I expected and there are many things to see besides the flowers. It is also possible to use a wheelchair or baby car around the whole temple area, which is often rare.
I´m a german girl living in the center of Tokyo, but my true love belongs to the countryside of Japan (especially Chiba and Hokkaido). I love traveling in Japan and explore hidden areas.
I want to help people with my articles to get in touch with the Japanese culture and all the beautiful places you can explore.
Besides traveling around, I love trains, handcraft and my little rabbits.