KIZUGAWA, Kyoto -- Blue and pink hydrangea flowers from some 5,000 plants in 30 varieties are currently in full bloom at this city's mountain-ringed Gansenji temple.
When the Mainichi Shimbun visited the grounds of Gansenji temple, the 15th site on the 25 hallowed flower temples pilgrimage in west Japan's Kansai region, many visitors could be seen taking photos of the colorful flowers under rainy skies. The views can reportedly be enjoyed until the end of June.
According to the temple, the surrounding 300-meter-high mountains reduce its sunlight hours, meaning their hydrangea flowers bloom about a week later than those on flatlands. This year's flowers are blooming in greater and more vivid quantities than usual. The first ones sprung up in late May, with the flowers on the mountain slopes and around the temple's main hall and pond beginning to bloom all at once in early June.
The temple is said to have been founded in 729, when an Amitabha hall was erected by the Buddhist priest Gyoki under orders from Emperor Shomu (701-756). Many visitors reportedly come to marvel at the contrast between the temple's vivid hydrangea flowers and its three-storied pagoda, an about 18-meter-high vermilion structure designated a national important cultural property and dating to the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Young people also visit to take photos for Instagram.
The temple is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last entries at 4:45 p.m. Admission is 500 yen (about $4.50) for adults, 400 yen (about $3.60) for junior and senior high school students, and 200 yen (about $1.80) for elementary schoolchildren. For more information, contact the temple by telephone at 0774-76-3390 (in Japanese).
(Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Osaka Photo Department)