Thursday, June 21, 2012

善峰寺 Yoshimine-dera clad in hydrangeas

Japan is in the middle of the rainy season "tsuyu /the apricot rains".  I like this cooler season before the intense heat of summer.  The beauty of "ajisai", hydrangeas, is even more impressive under the leaden skies on rainy days.  
In Kansai area, Mimuroto-ji Temple and Sanzen-in Temple in Kyoto and Yata-dera Temple and Gansen-ji Temple in Nara are the temples I know as popular sites for hydrangea viewing.   Today’s stage for numerous hydrangeas is lesser known Yoshimine-dera Temple.

Yoshimine-dera Temple (English site here)is a temple of Tendai school of Buddhism and is the 20th on the 33  Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage in western Japan .  It was founded by the priest Gensan/源算 in 1029, destroyed in the Onin Civil War (1467-1477), and later rebuilt by Keishoin/桂昌院, the mother of the 5th Tokugawa Shogun, Tsunayoshi, in the 17th century.

The temple was made from Gensan's idea of the West Paradise in this Nishiyama mountain whichi is west to Mt. Hiei, the outpost of the Tendai school.

The temple ground is on the steep slopes of the mountain, which is profuse with blooms of hydrangeas in early summer.

The recent rain has not only encouraged hydrangeas but also turned momiji leaves into emerald green.  Moss has turned into deeper green, too.

Emerald green of "iroha momiji"
Belfry, donated by Keisohin, completed in 1685

The changing colors of ajisai reminds me of "ojizo-sama" by association who tries to save mankind by all means, changing his figures.

My favorite is old fashioned, simple, big blue balls.

Sakura in spring, ajisai in summer, and momiji in autumn attract people but the natural attraction throughout the year is the 600-year-old Japanese white pine, 遊龍の松(Flying Dragon Pine).  Two branches of the pine tree had been trained to grow horizontally for about 54 meters, but they were cut off by 15 meters due to the damage caused by pine weevils in 1994. 

Flying Dragon Pine, National Monument designated in 1932

Mt. Nishi-yama is located opposite to Mt. Higashi-yama which is on the well-beaten track with many popular temples like Kiyomizu-dera, Nanzen-ji, Ginkaku-ji, and so on.  Few foreign tourists visit Mt. NIshi probably because it is located out of the popular sightseeing routes.  

Blurred view of southern Kyoto city from the temple


  1. What a wonderfully serene place inviting meditation with so much gently beauty all around. As always, you certainly capture the wonder of the landscape and landscaping.
    I too love the big heads of the old fashioned variety. I have it in one of my 160 year old gardens.

  2. Hi,Stardust.

  3. what a beautiful serie of images !

  4. Hello Yoko:
    The swathes of blue Hydrangeas really are an amazing sight. And, set within the confines of the temple, this truly is a magical place which really does wear its age so graciously.

    When we grew Hydrangeas, we were always aware of how much they appreciated water, drooping in the dry heat quite alarmingly. So, we are certain that these Hydrangeas will have loved the wet weather and are clearly putting on a marvellous performance because of it!!

  5. Wow, you live in a fantatic country.
    Blue hydrangeas are magic.
    J envy you.
    Ciao ciao

  6. That light blue colour - the one that you like, too - must be the most beautiful colour in the world! ^^

  7. My deerest friend Yoko

    I THANK YOU so much for the beauty that we offer with the beautiful gardens of your country!
    Blue hydrangeas are amazing!
    There is such harmony and cleanliness of the gardens, which excites me!
    I wish you Good morning and happy summer!
    Lots of kisses

  8. W ciekawym miejscu stoi świątynia, a jej otoczenie kwiaty i drzewa jest niesamowite i przepiękne.Zobaczyć tyle naraz kolorowych hortensji i japońska białą sosnę to niecodzienne przeżycie. Dziękuję za nie i pozdrawiam.
    The interesting point is the temple and its surrounding flowers and trees is amazing and so much at once przepiękne.Zobaczyć colored hydrangea and Japanese white pine is an unusual experience. Thank you and best regards for them.

  9. You have some of the most amazing gardens in your area. They hydrangea are gorgeous against the temple background setting. One photo in particular demonstrates how mass planting really can punch up an area. Hope you having fun. Enjoy that cooler weather:)

  10. What a beautiful view to take in. The steep slopes of the mountain draped with massive blue hydrangea blooms were extraordinary, Yoko! I have one lone hydrangea and the deer munch on it, so it had to be moved to the fenced in garden area in the field, far from the house.

  11. What lovely photos, the hydrangeas look gorgeous in their beautiful surroundings.

  12. Ajisai is really beautiful. The ajisai in my garden is pure white. It's a bit unique. Have a great weekend.

  13. so incredibly beautiful. the blooms are so gorgeous, but i was fascinated and enamored by those flying pines!

  14. A lovely outing to Yoshiminedera Temple. I noticed that you have both blue and pink hydrangeas growing together. The soil must suit both colours. I can only grow pink ones in my garden. The "iroha momiji" tree is beautiful.

  15. So artistic and utterly gorgeous.

  16. Wonderful post.
    All the beautiful places you have in your country, love to see them.
    The big, blue snowballs is my favorite too.
    Wish you a wonderful weekend.

  17. how very lovely and peaceful!! I would love top visit there.

  18. Look at those moss-covered steps and that winding trail! I wish I were there with you. Hydrangeas are so subtle - your shots of them are superb! Send some of that rain to CO, please.

  19. Hydrangea is one of my favourite flowers. I even have a project - in the future, I would like to plant them along my fence :)

  20. I am never short of admiring the sense of beauty that lies in the souls of Japanese people! That perfect and so cared for harmonious and outstanding beauty in art, calligraphy, parks, gardens and architecture! Thank you for giving us again and again examples of this Yoko!
    Enjoy the rainy days, hot summer is on the doorstep! :-)

  21. 紫陽花がお地蔵様の権現のように書いておられるのを面白く読みました。みずみずしさのない紫陽花は見るかげもないですものね。矢田寺を訪れたときお天気続きでそう感じました。

  22. A marvelous, lush community. Hydrangeas are truly beautiful plants, whatever color. The temple would be a wonderful place to meditate. I think I might prefer Mt. Nishi-yama, though, just because it is off the beaten track, as you say.

    It is always nice to hear from you. We have heard that the owl is a good-luck symbol and that every home should have one just inside the front door. Can't remember where that idea came from, through. I find owls fascinating creatures. At our old house in Ocala we had two that sat high in an oak tree at night. I'd shine a light on them and they would sit there, eyes shining for awhile but would then move higher and hide!

  23. The hydrangeas in your world are far more advanced than the ones in my yard that are just beginning to bloom. I always look forward to their sky blue, pink and purple hues. They add color to the gray rainy days in BC, too. That is a very pretty stone stairway and winding path through the foliage, stardust. Peaceful places to walk refresh the soul. :)

  24. 600 year old Flying Dragon Pine.... how wonderful! Your pictures of the hydrangeas are lovely, such beautiful blooms everywhere. You go to such beautiful places.... is this temple close to your home?

  25. I also prefer taking photos of plants, flowers and blossoms if the sky is overcast. The smooth light, in my humble opinion, is most of the time much better applicable than the big contrast when sun is shining.

    Nevertheless: may sunshine and happiness enlighten your heart and your soul, even during the rain season, and may all the bad impressions of abused artwork dissolve into thin air... ;-)

    Enjoyable weekend, Yoko!


  26. Beautiful blossoms and emerald carpets. I think the blue ones are my favorite.

  27. Annemarie - Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I tried to post a comment but couldn’t. Probably because I don’t join Google+.

    Shammickite - The temple is in Kyoto north to Nara where I live. It took about two hours changing trains and taking a bus.

  28. such lovely post, I love the first pic and its cute the name of the rains, abricots:-))

  29. Wonderful pictures (and info) since my last visit. Have a great day!

  30. 吉峰寺? 思い出しました!ご詠歌の中に出てくるお寺でした。こんなにあじさいがきれいなんですね!お寺もとてもすばらしい。桂昌院さんて関西の寺社の復興にも随分関心と理解があったみたいですね。三輪神社の拝殿や室生寺の堂塔の修理寄進なども積極的に推進されたようです。思う所が多かったのでしょうね。

  31. Wonderful photos
    so fresh and bright.

    Have a lovely weekend

    Fiona x

  32. Olá!
    Lugar lindo muito agradável para um passeio relaxante.
    Bom fim de semana!

  33. Dear Yoko,
    I've been to the market today and there was a florist, with lots of flowers in pots. Among them, gorgeous hydrangeas of all colors: light and dark pink, blue, white and yellow. I thought of you, I'm sure you would have loved them!

    I never tire to amaze, watching your beautiful pictures, what a balanced relationship man and nature can have, when man isn't trying to invade nature, to prove his "superiority" and "intelligence". The wooden temple and the luxuriant vegetation seem to have made peace between them, under the blessing of all gods. Simply blissful!...

    Enjoy your rainy season, we had almost unbearable days lately, with temperatures up to 38 Celsius degrees at shade... Thank god for today's rain, for cooling the air a little bit!

  34. Yokoさん こんにちは。

  35. What a beautiful temple with gorgeous hydrangeas! I'm sure you visited at the best time of them. How lucky you.
    Me too.I love deep blue balls with shades of purple. It is interesting you saw Ojizo-sama in the flowers, but I saw Kannon Bodhisattva in them.

    Last year just after rain I visited Yata-dera Temple. Hydrangeas flowers were at the best time.
    This year, I went three temples, some of them are famous for hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are really photogenic flowers.

  36. 善峰寺は札所として、聞いた事はありますが、行った事はないです。大きなお寺なんですね。あじさいもすごそうですが、竜の松もよく手入れされていますね。本当にエメラルドグリーンのもみじがお寺の建物によくはえています。遠近感のあるいい写真ですね。

  37. Mis hortensias también están floreciendo ahora... Bss

  38. Your pictures take us on a wonderful tour of these ancient and spectacular grounds. I love the weathered wood,rope,stone steps,the lovely old bell and the water scoops.......and of course the hydrangeas.

    Thank you Yoko!

  39. Hydrangeas are true water lovers, and also appreciate the shade. What a magnificent sight they are!

  40. I enjoyed the history lesson. It adds to the beauty of the site, knowing a bit of the background. The hydrangeas are beautiful. Ours only bloom late in the summer.

  41. Gorgeous hydrangeas which aare a feast for the eyes. Your photographs does them justice.

  42. I am so glad you added a lot of photos. This gives us such a nice view of this part of Japan. Thank you. David/:0)

  43. What a beautiful country you live in.Stunning photos and a interesting story. I really hope I will be able to visit Japan some day. Thank you for showing us.


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