Cheapo Weekend for June 15/16: Rainy Season Specialities and a Million Candles

Greg Lane

ajisai-2013

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s raining a lot recently, which is to be expected at a time of year known as ‘rainy season’.  There’s no reason to stay inside though as this is also the time for Ajisai (hydrangea) and firefly festivals.

For a spectacular display of hydrangeas, one of the more famous festivals in Tokyo is the 29th Bunkyo Ajisai Matsuri centered around Hakusan Shrine and Hakusan Park in Bunkyo Ward.  The area has plantings of 3,000 hydrangea bushes with a range of colours – a phenomenon related to the soil acidity around the roots of the plant.  The festival continues until Sunday, the 16th of June.  Hakusan Shrine is a 3 minute walk from Hakusan Station on the Mita Line and entry is free.

If you can’t be bothered trekking to the countryside to see fireflies in their natural environment then you can head to Takashimadaira in Itabashi Ward on the Mita Line this weekend to see one of the two varieties of firefly in full flight.  You’ll be able to see them at the Itabashi Firefly Ecological Reserve Centre (Itabashi hotaru  seitai kankyo kan). Here is a link in Japanese.  Free tickets for the 7:sopm to the 9:30pm viewing time are available from 6:30pm, but they’re limited to the first 2,000 people so you’d best get there early. It might be worth calling ahead too for details – 03-3579-2591

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At Ikegami Honmonji temple this Saturday, is an event not related at all to seasonal flora and fauna – the 15th of June there will be a “Candle Night” (link in Japanese) from 4pm to 9pm featuring some huge lanterns and lots of smaller ones with candles inside.  If you turn up at 4pm, you’ll be able to write a message on your own lantern to the children of Ishinomaki who were affected by the Tsunami in 2011 before it is illuminated.  The publicity says “1 million person candle night” but it’s unlikely there will be 1 million in attendance so perhaps they’re just being ambitious? The closest station is Ikegami on the Tokyu Ikegami Line.


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