KYOTO -- Azalea flowers are seen in full bloom on a slope at a water purification plant in this west Japan city's Higashiyama Ward.
Some 4,900 azaleas in seven varieties of reddish-purple and pink are planted across about 110,000 square meters of land at the Keage Purification Plant, which takes water from a canal running from Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, in nearby Shiga Prefecture, to supply as much as 198,000 cubic meters per day. The plant was built on a slope, and the azaleas were planted to stabilize the ground; it's believed the flowers have been going on public display since the Taisho period (1912-1926).
Usually, the facility opens for visitors to admire the scenery during the Golden Week holidays between the end of April and beginning of May, but this year's event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons. Even so, the beautiful flowers blooming on the mountainside are still visible from nearby streets.
According to the plant, blooming began about a week earlier than usual due to warm weather and longer sunlight hours in early spring, making this week the best time to view.
(Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Osaka Photo Department)