Meigetsuin Temple in Kamakura is one of those places that has always presented me with something of a paradox. On one hand, it is undeniably beautiful and atmospheric. However, tranquility is a word I have often struggled to associate this temple with given its popularity with visitors, especially during the hydrangea season. June typically marks the start of Japan’s hydrangea season, since these flowers love water and come into full bloom during the rainy reason. However, by the beginning of July, many of these flowers wither as the cooler, cloudy skies give way to the harsh heat and overpowering light of the Japanese summer.
Officially named “Fugenzan Meigentsu-in” but more commonly known as “Meigetsuin,” this temple really comes to life in June as its 2,500 or so hydrangeas transform this temple into a beautiful sea of blue. Although some of Kamakura’s other temples like Hasedera are also renowned for their colorful flowers, Meigetsuin boasts the largest number of the “Hime Ajisai” (Princess Hydrangea) species that are renowned for their deep vivid blue color and make up around 95% of this temple's flowers. The only downside however, is the hoards of annual visitors that this spectacle attracts.
Ideally, the best advice I could give to anyone coming here during this period would be to go on a weekday and avoid the weekends like the plague unless you want to experience the legendary long queues where waiting times can take up to an hour or more! Unable to follow this sound advice, I had to settle for going on a Sunday. Despite arriving almost an hour before the official opening time, there was already a sizable number of keen enthusiasts with their varying range of cameras which easily outclassed anything I had. As the day progressed, I did get to see some amazing sights. However, the heat and bustling crowds were a constant reminder that I was one in a sea of numerous individuals
Meigetsuin Temple is about a 10 minute walk from JR Kita-Kamakura Station that is situated on the JR Yokosuka line. This station is about a 25 minute ride from Yokohama and can also be reached from Tokyo in little under an hour.
Find out more about Meigetsuin Temple.