Gokurakuji Station
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Japan's other flower obsession
The rainy season trade-off in Japan means not seeing the sun for weeks in exchange for insane hydrangea blooms, or ajisai. I think it's a fair deal. Just as with cherry blossoms in the spring, you don't have to go to a particular spot to enjoy hydrangeas in the early summer. They're everywhere. The forecast on a recent Sunday showed four clear hours after five straight days of rain, so I set out early for Kamakura. I started at Gokurakuji Station to walk between Jojuin Temple and Hase-dera Temple. Both sites had spectacular gardens, but the impromptu blossoms along the way filled me with the most joy. Japanese gardeners can do magical things with a square foot of ground. Flower-loving visitors to Japan might consider coming the first or second week of June to catch the longer-blooming ajisai instead of playing sakura roulette.
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