With this lovely picture I took in June this year, I am very pleased to start the very first post of my little blog, with my favourite season in my favourite place in Japan so far, which is the rainy season in Kamakura (鎌倉).
Kamakura, is a small seaside city/town in Kanagawa-ken (神奈川県), an hour away by train from Tokyo. In weekends, I sometimes feel an urge to escape from the forest of concretes and steels, and the crowds in the streets of Tokyo, and flee to Kamakura – well, sometimes or most of the times Kamakura is no less crowded, given its location and renowned history usually described as “little Kyoto”, but the greens and the blues, the ancient temples and shrines still cure me never the less.
For the locals it is no news, but Kamakura is specially beautiful in the rainy season in Japan. It doesn’t mean it is less attractive in other seasons, but in the rainy season, when people are depressed by the cloudy weather or the showering rain almost everyday, it is the best time to visit Kamakura again, to see the city in a different set of colours – purple and blue, of the sacred flower of the God of rain, Ajisai (紫陽花).
Engaku-ji (円覚寺) is about 200 meters away from Kita-Kamakura train station (北鎌倉駅), so it is always my first stop when visiting Kamakura. Unlike other famous temples or shrines in Kamakura, Engakuji is more peaceful and a typical scene of Japanese style “wabi – sabi” with its laid-back atmosphere. It is never as crowded as others. As a result, it is to my point of view the most suitable with Ajisai in the rain.
While appreciating the melancholy beauty of the flowers, you can also try Zen meditation and Sutras writing there, after perhaps, having tea at the tea ceremony with the monks.
Meigetsu-in (明月院) would be my second stop and the most recommended place for appreciating Ajisai. It is also a cute temple with bunnies here and there. At weekends of the season, it is very crowded with locals and visitors, not to mention cameras and tripods, which is good proof of its beauty.
People here feel blessed with the sacred flower, and small arrangements with it can be seen everywhere.
Another temple as famous spot for Ajisai is Hase-dera (長谷寺). To get there you can either walk, as Kamakura is not a big city anyway and good for wandering around, and it takes about 30 minutes to get there. Or, you can walk down the only main street after getting out of Meigetsu-in until Kamakura train station, and from there take Enoden (江ノ電) for 3 stops, and get off at the station Hase (長谷).
I went to Hase-dera (長谷寺) for Ajisai last year. When I went there, it was a little late for the season, as the flowers had started to fade away. I don’t have good pictures for it as a result, but just one that is my favourite and I even painted after it:
So, here you go. Top three recommended places for Ajisai, to tour in Kamakura in the rainy season. The city as a whole is blurred away in the rain, as though there were a background melody from ancient time.
June to early July is not as crowded as in spring when people come to see sakura, nor as in late July to August which is the typical traveling season for every country, nor as in autumn when weather is much better and in late autumn the crowds come again for the leaves. It is kind of an off season, even for the locals. But, I find the rain in the background especially curing, when visiting the ancient cities or the sub-urban areas outside Tokyo.
I am also working on other trip diaries during rainy season, please be sure to check them out when available. 🙂
Thanks for reading (until the end)! Please share with me your comments, be it on the topic, the pictures, the information provided, or the grammar!