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Nature

Hydrangea season has come!

Japan has rainy season around middle June to Middle July. The weather has changed every day.
In rainy season has also enjoyable season of hydrangea and Japanese iris anywhere.
You may spend a lot of time in your room during the rainy season, but there is a place to visit during this season when the hydrangea and Japanese iris are in full bloom. Kamakura and imperial palace is the one of those options.

Kamakura

Kamakura has many places to see the beautiful temple with hydrangea such a Meigetuin, Hase temple and Kenchoji.

Meigetuin
Meigetuin

Meigetsu-in is famous for the garden that can be seen from the round window, but there is a large garden behind it, where hydrangeas and irises are in full bloom, so we recommend you enter there.

Hase temple is famous for the Hydrangea temple in Hase area at Kamakura. The seaside view and hydrangea contrast and backside of temple garden is nice to see.

Hase Temple
Seaside view from Hase temple

It not only famous temple, but also small size of temple is calm and quiet atmosphere. If you wanted to avoid crowd, please visit small size temples.

Tokeiji Temple

Tokeiji placed near Meigetuin in Kita-Kamakura. The Kita-Kamakura area is good to strolling the many historical temples and beautiful gardens. The ancient city of Kamakura is a place where you can enjoy a stroll while thinking about history.

Toukeiji Temple

Jochiji Garden has beautiful and calm atmosphere.

Jochiji garden

Tokyo Imperial palace and Hamarikyu garden

Of course, there are many hydrangea spots in Tokyo, but I recommend the Imperial Palace East Gardens and Hamarikyu Gardens. Imperial palace east garden has beautiful Ninomaru garden inside. The garden made for entertainment or strolling at Edo era such a tea ceremony.

Hamarikyu made in Tokugawa era for brother’s house of fourth shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu. In Meiji era, the garden became a detached place for the imperial family. In 1952, it was designated as a national special scenic spot include the surrounding water surface and historic site.

Hamarikyu Garden

These two places are historically very old and have existed since the Tokugawa period. It is a place where you can enjoy the contrast between beautiful gardens and historic buildings.

Hamarikyu Garden

Please enjoy to find your favorite place to see the beautiful flower in rainy season in Japan.

Nature

Amazing view Mt. Nokogiriyama!

I visited Mt. Nokogiri in May to experience the amazing scenery. This mountain is about two hours away from Tokyo by train, but it’s definitely worth a visit. I share the Mt. Nokogiriyama hiking story.

What is the Mt. Nokogiriyama?

Nokogiriyama is a low mountain with an altitude of 329m at the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, which is selected as one of the 100 low mountains, and is about the height of Tokyo Tower. Because there is nothing to block the surroundings, the scenery is a mountain that has been selected as one of the 100 views of Mt. Fuji in Kanto.

At the Nihon-ji Temple near the summit, there are photo spots overlooking the sheer cliffs called “Japan’s Biggest Great Buddha”, “Hyakushaku Kannon” and “Jigoku Nozoki”.

On the course, you can see the remains of a stone quarry that has been in operation since the late Edo period. These industrial heritages have been left as they were, and you can not only feel what it was like back then, but the moss-covered forest makes you feel as if you have wandered into the world of Studio Ghibli.

How to visit

From Tokyo, you can go by train, ferry, car, highway bus, etc.


In the case of trains, the “Limited Express Sazanami” runs from Shinjuku to Hamakanaya, so you can arrive in about two hours without changing trains.

If you take a ferry, it takes about 40 minutes from Kumihama in Tokyo to Hamakanaya Port, and after a short walk beyond Hamakanaya Station, you will find the trailhead.

See here for directions to Mt. Nokogiri.

This time, we took the train to Hamakanaya Station, followed by the Sharikido to the top of the mountain via an observatory where you can see the round earth. From the stone quarry, I selected the course that goes through Iwabutai, peeks into hell at Nihon-ji Temple, sees Japan’s largest Buddha statue, and descends to Hota.

You can also climb Mt. Nokogiri by ropeway, but it may stop depending on the weather, so be sure to check the website on the day.

Hiking Course

When you arrive at the trailhead junction from Hamakanaya Station, you will be divided into the Fureai-no-michi course and the Shariki-michi course. The course is divided into three.

 1.For beginners, the “Quick Jigoku Peeping Sightseeing Course 1.9 km, 60 minutes.”

2.For beginners and intermediate level “Industrial Heritage Tour Course 2.6 km, 90 minutes”

3.For intermediate and advanced climbers “Mt. Nokogiri Climber Course 3.9 km, 150 minutes”

Course 1 involves climbing about 500 steps first, so please do your best.
Click here for details of each course.

We selected course No.3.

In the olden days, women carried quarried stones back and forth three times a day.
You can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. The stairs are different here and there, so I’m a little out of breath, but I’m going while resting.

At the next fork, the trail splits into Nihon-ji Temple and the summit.
This time, we will aim for the “observation deck where the earth looks round” and the “mountain summit”. To get to the observatory, you have to go up the stairs made on a fairly steep slope. Hold on to the handrails so you don’t fall down.

When you finally reach the top, you will reach the observatory where you can see the earth in a round shape. The scenery is indeed wonderful!

From the top of the mountain, we will head to Nihon-ji Temple. Along the way, you will pass through quarries and rock stages. It is exciting to see industrial heritage here.

From the Edo period to the Meiji era, it is deeply moving to think that the stones were really carried by human hands from here.

From here, cross the wall of Laputa and head to the Japanese temple.

After climbing the stone steps, you will arrive at the north exit of Nihon-ji Temple. When you pay the entrance fee and go inside, the first thing that surprises you is Hyakushaku Kannon. My height is 156 cm, so can you tell the difference in size?

There was a little line for “Jigoku Nozoki”, but soon it was my turn and I looked down. It’s quite high, but if you climb all the way up here, please try going to the tip. It’s safe because there is a fence.

Well, all in all, enjoy Mt. Nokogiri and descend. I would like to get off the ropeway and walk to Hamakanaya in 8 minutes, but since the ropeway is stopped, I will head to Hota Station through the approach to the temple.

The approach was well maintained, so it was very easy to go down the mountain.

When you go down the mountain, you will reach a place where you can see the railroad tracks by the road, so it will take 20 minutes to walk to Hota Station from here.

Summary

2 hours by train to Hamakanaya Station. It took about 4 hours on the “Mountaineer Course”, slowly going around the car power road, the summit, Nihonji Temple, and the roadside station. Overall, there are many things to see, and the mountain has a relaxing atmosphere, so it was a fun course to take a lunch and take a rest.

If you wanted to see the video, please click here.

Nature

Kita-Kamakura in the bright red

Kita-Kamakura is a popular destination for enjoying bright red autumn foliage within an hour of Tokyo.

Kamakura is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, less than an hour south of Tokyo. The town became the political center of Japan when Minamoto Yoritomo chose it as the seat for his new military government in the late 12th century. The Kamakura government continued to rule Japan for over a century, first under the Minamoto shogun and then under the Hojo regents.
Kita-Kamakura is a small neighborhood within Kamakura City. The area is particularly famous for its traditional atmosphere and many temples – a result of being the home base of the Hojo clan, which ruled Japan for over 150 years (1185-1333). Three of these temples are of the five highest-ranking Rinzai Zen temples in Kamakura, known as the Kamakura Five Great Zen Temples or the Kamakura Gozan.
This time, we visited the most famous temple Enkakuji (円覚寺), Meigetuin(明月院), and Kenchoji(建長寺).

There was amazing scenery for the end of November, the best season for dried red autumn foliage. I recommend visiting in the early morning or staying one night in Kamakura city this season to watch beautiful scenery, avoiding the crowds. Recently, Kamakura has renovated some interesting old houses to be like a homestay, and these are intriguing for those looking for a trip different from the norm.

Tsuruokahachiman Shrine


Information on Kamakura is Here.

How to visit Kita-Kamakura

You can take a 60-minute JR train from Shibuya or Shinagawa directly, and Kita-Kamakura is the station after Kamakura. You can also use the Odakyu line via the Enoshima leg.
In just an hour, you will be free from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. 

Engakuji(円覚寺)

Engakuji (円覚寺) is one of the leading Zen temples in Eastern Japan and the number two of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples. Engakuji was founded by the ruling regent Hojo Tokimune in the year 1282, one year after the second invasion attempt by the Mongols was reverted. One purpose of the new temple was to pay respect to the fallen Japanese and Mongolian soldiers.

Engakuji is built into the slopes of Kita-Kamakura’s forested hills. The first main structure encountered upon entering the temple grounds is the Sanmon main gate, which dates from 1783. Behind it stands the temple’s main hall, the Butsuden, which displays a wooden statue of the Shaka Buddha. The Butsuden was rebuilt relatively recently in 1964 after the former building was lost in an earthquake.

Meigetuin Temple(明月院)

Meigetsuin Temple (明月院) is a temple of the Rinzai Zen Sect founded in 1160 in Kamakura. It is also known as Ajisaidera (“Hydrangea Temple”) because hydrangeas bloom in abundance on the temple grounds during the rainy season around June. 95% of the hydrangeas here are of the Hime Ajisai (“Princess Hydrangea”) variety; they are thus named because of their pretty blue colors.

The temple was originally a repose built by a son in memory of his father, who died in the struggle for power between the Taira and Minamoto clans in the late Heian Period. It later became part of a larger temple complex called Zenkoji, which was abolished during anti-Buddhist movements soon after the Meiji Restoration, leaving only Meigetsuin to remain as an individual temple today.

In the back of Meigetsuin’s lush temple grounds stands the main hall (Hojo). The building features a lovely circular window, which frames the scenery of the inner garden behind it. The inner garden is known for its irises. It is open to visitors only during two periods of about two weeks per year: in June when the irises are in bloom, and in late November/early December, when the autumn colors are at their best. An additional admission fee applies.

Kenchoji(建長寺)

Kenchoji (建長寺, Kenchōji) is number one of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples. The oldest Zen temple in Kamakura, Kenchoji, was founded by the ruling regent Hojo Tokiyori in 1253 during the Kencho Era, after which it was named. Its first head priest was Rankei Doryu, a Zen priest from China.

Although considerably smaller than during its heydays, Kenchoji still consists of many temple buildings and sub-temples. It stretches from the entrance gate at the bottom of the valley far into the forested hills behind. After passing through the Sanmon main gate, visitors will see Kenchoji’s temple bell (Bonsho), designated a national treasure, on their right.

Lunch at a Japanese restaurant

We luckily could reserve Japanese Kaiseki (懐石料理) lunch during the peak season for autumn foliage. It was beautiful, and we filled our hearts with Japanese cuisine.

Kita-kamakura Summary

We could see the lovely, beautiful scenery at the end of November. Kita-Kamakura is also famous for the cherry blossoms in April and Ajisai flowers in June. Especially, a slow morning walk felt free and relaxing from the busy Tokyo.

Kamakura is also where you can enjoy the autumn foliage, seasonal flowers, and relaxing wind. It’s a walking and healthy food spot that’s easy to reach from Tokyo, so if you haven’t experienced it yet, why not go there?

Location: Kamakura, Duration: 5 hours Start Time: 9:00 Back to Tokyo time: 3:00

Nature

Mt.Tsukuba Hiking

Climbing one of the 100 most famous Japanese mountains in Tsukuba

It is popular to visit here in autumn to appreciate the mountain’s stunning foliage, making it a great day trip from Tokyo.


As the Japanese saying goes, “Fuji represents the west, while Tsukuba represents the east.” The mountains of Tsukuba are sacred places.

Mt. Tsukuba is a twin-peaked mountain in central Ibaraki comprising Mt. Nantai. and Mt. Nyotai, rising to 877 meters. In addition to the Tsukuba Shrine at the foot, there are shrines on both peaks, making the entire mountain a sacred area. A circular route from Tsukuba Shrine around the mountain is an excellent way to explore the area. Mt. Tsukuba is climbable year-round and is easily accessible to beginners thanks to the Mt. Tsukuba Cable Car and Mt. Tsukuba Ropeway.

Mount Tsukuba, a mountain of mountain worship, is also a power spot heaven. Near the top is Miyukigahara, home to the 800-year-old giant Shihosugi cedar tree, the nearby headwaters of the Minanogawa river, and the Tateshin tree near the summit of Nantai. Many power spots, such as massive rocks and strangely shaped ones, are characteristic of Mt. Tsukuba, including the type of stone.

In addition, Tsukubasan Shrine, which enshrines two gods, a man, and a woman, is said to bring blessings for marriage and marriage! A small heart pattern is hidden in the large bell of the worship hall in the middle of the mountain. Please try to find it!

Information on Mt.Tsukuba is Here.

How to visit Mt.Tsukuba

Take a 45-minute Tsukuba express train from Akihabara and a 40-minute bus to Mt. Tsukuba shrine. Buses run about once every 30 minutes, or you can use a taxi from Tsukuba station to Tsukuba shrine for about 7,400JPY.
There are multiple routes to the top of the mountain. Choose a course according to your physical strength.
The trail map is here

Shirakumobashi trail

This time, we chose the Shirakumobashi course, a recommended course full of highlights such as huge rocks and oddly shaped ones. If you are confident in your physical strength, please choose this way.
Once at the top of Mt.Tsukuba, there was beautiful scenery from the cliff. Please watch your step as there is no barrier.


Coming down, you can select the ropeway or by foot. We used the Miyukigahara course, which is due to a lot of gaps in the stairs and some rocks. It takes 75 minutes from the Miyukigahara rest house.
We arrived back at Tsukuba Shrine around 4:30. A beautiful sunset welcomed us. The last bus was at 5:10, so we were on time.

Hiking Summary

Tsukuba, which you can enjoy all day long, is a very easy-to-reach mountain, and it has become a mountain I want to visit again because it is well-maintained.

Please note that restrooms, drinks, and food are only available at teahouses and ropeway stations, so be sure to prepare well and check the rest points before climbing to ensure a safe and secure climb.

Tsukuba is also where you can enjoy the autumn foliage. It’s a hiking and climbing spot that’s easy to reach from Tokyo, so if you haven’t experienced it yet, why not go there?

Location: Tsukuba, Duration:5h30m. Start Time:9:00 Back to Tsukuba shrine time:4:30