Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Blooming in the Rain: Okinawa’s Yohena Hydrangea Garden and Other Top Hydrangea Spots in Japan

Blooming in the Rain: Okinawa’s Yohena Hydrangea Garden and Other Top Hydrangea Spots in Japan

Wendy Ng

During Japan’s rainy season, a particular flower strives in the wet conditions and shines through the gloom. Hydrangea is the quintessential flower of the rainy season. The vibrant hydrangeas inject colors and life to Japan’s landscape in the showery months of June and July.


Known as aijisai (紫陽花) in Japanese, hydrangea is also called shichihenge (七変化) which means “seven transformations” or “eight immortal flower” (八仙花). The befitting name describes the flower’s unique characteristic. The flower petals change colors depending on the pH, the acidity or alkalinity, of the soil. Over the course of 4 to 6 weeks of blooming, the colors change dramatically The flowers grow deeper in color intensity as rainwater falls on them. It is common to find a kaleidoscope of blossoms on a single bush.





In the most southern island of Japan, Okinawa, there is a hidden gem during the rainy season. Yohena Hydrangea Garden in Izumi of Motobu is owned by Mrs. Uto Yohena. The 98 year-old lady’s private hobby of planting flowers in her tangerine field garden blossomed into a spectacular hydrangea attraction which was ranked as the top 30 hydrangea gardens in Western Japan. Mrs Yohena’s hard work was recognized by the Okinawan community and she received the “Regional Contribution Award” given by the Okinawa Times Newspaper (Ryukyu Shimpo). Her hydrangea garden was opened to public in 2001. Since then, many visitors from all over Japan have travelled to the northern part of Okinawa during the rainy season. Always friendly and eager to pose for photographs with visitors, Mrs Yohena and her charismatic personality add to the charm of her splendid garden.

2 Mrs Yohena

A little ticket booth is located at the entrance to the garden. Adults have to pay 300 yen while children (aged 7-18 years old) just have to pay 100 yen to enjoy the garden. The affordable admission fee is collected to supplement the cost of maintaining the garden. A breathtaking view of the floral landscape greets visitors after the humble-looking ticket booth. The juxtaposition of the panorama of variegated hydrangeas and the green monochrome backdrop of Motobu provides a visual feast for the visitors.




Matsuo Basho wrote this haiku about hydrangea when he was visiting Fukagawa (深川) in 1694: 紫陽花や藪を小庭の別座敷 (ajisai ya yabu wo koniwa no  betsu zashiki). Subtly yet succinctly, he seemed to illustrate the solitary pleasure of viewing hydrangea in a little garden. As the raindrops fall pensively, take a retrospective moment and admire the graceful dance of the droplets on the colorful petals.


Yohena Ajisai Garden (よへなあじさい園)
Location: Motobu, Okinawa Prefecture



Other top “hydrangea-viewing” spots in Japan

1. Meigetsuin Temple (明月院)
Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

2. Hase Temple (長谷寺)
Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

3. Hakone Tozan Railway (箱根登山電車)
Location: Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture

4. Amidaji Temple (阿弥陀寺)
Location: Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture

5. Hakusan Shrine (白山神社)
Location: Bunkyo, Tokyo

6. Hondoji Temple (本土寺)
Location: Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture

7. Nogoji Temple (能護寺)
Location: Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture

8. Gongendo Park  (権現堂公園)
Location: Satte, Saitama Prefecture

9. Shimoda Park (下田公園)
Location: Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture

10. Mimurotoji Temple (三室戸寺)
Location: Uji, Kyoto Prefecture

11. Seki Hydrangea Village (関市板取あじさい村)
Location: Seki, Gifu Prefecture

12. The Kobe Municipal Arboretum (Kobe City Forest Botanical Garden) (神戸市立森林植物園)
Location: Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

13. Myozenji Temple (明善寺)
Location: Kyowa, Hokkaido Prefecture

14. Shinonome-no-sato Hydrangea Garden (東雲の里)
Location: Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture