The Ajisai Garden of Hasedera Temple
Hasedera Temple is one of the most popular temples in the Kanto region of Japan and is located only a short 10 minute walk away from the famous Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha of Kamakura).
Kamakura, a must see destination in Japan is a beautiful small town by the sea only an hour away from Tokyo. It is a popular holiday spot for Tokyoites, and is famous for its laid-back earthy vibe, organic restaurants and summer beach shacks.
According to legend, Hasedera Temple is believed to date from 736 AD and is famous for its large temple complex and stunning Ajisai Garden in the early summer.
Ajisai or Hydrangea as we call them in English are the symbol of the rainy season here in Japan and draw crowds in the thousands to see them during June and July. They certainly make all the rain during this time of the year bearable with their beautiful bright vibrant colours. The more rain the better as this intensifies the deep blue, purple or pink of the flowers.
The Ajisai Garden of Hasedera Temple has around 2500 hydrangea of 40 different species planted with its grounds. It is a pleasure to stroll along the Hydrangea path of the temple to admire these beautiful flowers even holding an umbrella in the rain.
The temple grounds include an attractive garden and pond with bamboo water fountain and stone lanterns. The grounds of the temple are also home to hundreds of small Jizō statues, the guardian deity of children, which are placed there by parents mourning the loss of unborn children. The statues are replaced after a year or so to make way for more statues, and it is estimated that more than 50,000 Jizō statues have been placed at Hasedera Temple since WWII.
Hasedera Temple, built on two levels also commands a stunning view of Kamakura Bay. Other highlights include an underground cave called ‘benten kutsu’ which contains a long winding tunnel and various statues and devotionals to Benzaiten, the sea goddess and the only female member of the Seven Lucky Gods of Japanese mythology.
The main building of the temple called the ‘Kannon-do’ contains a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, which is regarded as one of the largest wooden sculptures in Japan at 9 meters high. The statue has 11 heads and each face has a different expression, representing Kannon’s compassion for all kinds of human suffering. The ‘Kannon-do’ also contains a Treasure House, which houses artefacts from the Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi and Edo periods.
Kamakura is only an hour away from Tokyo and makes a great day trip from the capital with its amazing temples and shrines. The best time to see the beautiful Ajisai at Hasedera Temple is from mid-June to early July.
Address: 3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
Hours: Open from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm (until 5:00 pm from October to February)
Closed: No Closing Days
Admission: 300 yen
You can reach Kamakura by train on the JR Yokosuka line from either Shinagawa or Tokyo Stations. Hasedera Temple is located a five minute walk from Hase Station, which is the third station from Kamakura on the Enoden Railway Line.