Best with: plum sake (umeshu, or 梅酒), and non-stop rainy days.
June has not been my favorite month of year. It is after the golden-week vacation, it gets hot and sweaty easily, it marks the start of the rainy season in Tokyo area, and the worst of all: it has no public holidays in it – all makes it a bit hard to plan any getaways in this long month.
However, when I was checking my old pictures over the years, I realized I did travel around quite a lot during this month. Those were all little day trips, or one night, tops; but there are many beautiful pictures of this particular season when one of my favorite flowers blooms in the area of Tokyo: the hydrangea, or Ajisai (紫陽花) in both Japanese and Chinese.
Where to see hydrangea blossoms in Tokyo area
Interestingly, my first blog here is about this flower, and you can review that one for some old picture. It is about my favorite town near Tokyo as well, Kamakura, where I have been millions of times.
In the city of Tokyo, my favorite spot for seeing this flower is Hakusan shrine (白山神社). I used to live very close to it, so maybe that is also why. I found some old pictures again, some featuring a younger version of me. 🙂
Outside of Tokyo… green looks the best after rain in Nikko (日光)
By the end of June, or even beginning of July, the entire east Japan is in the middle of the rainy season. Every year, it has been difficult to decide where to go to celebrate P’s birthday, which is on July 1st. Actually, there are quite some gems that shine even better after a good rain.
This is where people visit during summer, the sacred mountain area north to Tokyo: Nikko (日光). I have been to it numerous times, including in summer when it brings coolness and autumn when the leaves are just beautiful. You would imagine in June it may be less beautiful, but actually the greenish nature after rain is just like a fairytale coming true:
Or, go north to get a good dip in the Onsen (温泉) in the northern prefectures
The north part of east Japan can be difficult to get there, as it is not like the big cities such as Tokyo where you have dozens of lines at each train station. Nontheless, I always imagine it is how Japan should look like behind the curtains.
To escape the heat, I would travel north to wander in the nature, or in the “ghost” towns. The trip to Iwate prefecture, Ichinoseki city (岩手県一関市) and the nearby Hanamaki town (花巻) was one of such memories. The views are amazing. And nothing beats a good night rest in a cozy Onsen Ryokan (温泉旅館) near some mountain stream with rain in the background, where you can both warm up after a long day and enjoy a traditional and less pricy Kaiseki Ryori (懐石料理), sometimes with quality Japanese beef, or Wagyu (和牛).
This year, where should I go (if possible at all..)?