There are at least two ajisai (hydrangea) festivals held in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture each June. One is on the way to Kora Taisho on the mountain Korasan, in Mii-machi. The other (larger) festival is held farther east, at Senkoji. The Senkoji Festival runs through June and for 300 yen per adult, visitors can be swimming in hydrangeas. (There are some 7,000 plants.)
2016’s Korasan Ajisai Matsuri was really nice so we decided to go again this year after the hydrangeas started blooming around town. The ajisai en (hydrangea park) is on the way up the small mountain of Korasan. Although not at a very high altitude, the flowers here typically start blooming around a week later than down in the city.
2017 has been a little strange, weather wise. Super rainy in early spring it then got warm a little early. It was hot in May, but the first half of June was cool and dry. The rainy season started around the second week of June as usual but the region has seen only a few days of rain since. The weather is also less hot and humid than it was last year at this time. Mornings are still cool and cloudy. Maybe we're lucky, but maybe it will get ridiculously hot this summer. This lack of rain has meant a few things, and one of them is that the hydrangeas around Kurume are not blooming as fully as they did last year. In fact the usual big bunches of flowers haven't fully bloomed in most places, and each flower is smaller than usual. Plenty of insects were still out to play though.
At the time of visiting the Ajisai Matsuri on Korasan, on a clear and cool day, the festivities were just getting started. This isn't the kind of festival that has lots of vendors selling food – it's a park on the slopes of a mountain, so that's not possible. If you're here at the right time, however, there are performances like taiko held on a small stage opposite the rocky main trail. There's a small resting area along the trail to the park, so walkers can stop for a picnic and enjoy the view. There were several people walking as usual; small groups and elderly couples out getting their exercise. After passing the “tree couple” (a pair of trees with branches that grew together to look like they are holding hands), the hydrangea park begins along a small path to the right of the main trail. The path continues to wind its way up the hill, splitting a number of times to provide ample opportunity for exploration. There are several nice viewing points here, as the hydrangeas are planted along the slope. Tall bamboo and Japanese cedar grow in the background.
Be sure to explore the potential hydrangea festivals in your own part of Japan. There are a handful of places around Fukuoka City including Maizuru Park near the temple ruins in the city, Inoshima City alongside Shiraito no Taki, and Umi no Naka Michi's Seaside Park. Here in Kyushu the hydrangea bloom around June, but it will be a little later in other parts of the country. It sounds like the rest of Japan is getting plenty of rain this year, so small blooms shouldn't be an issue.
This year the one-day festival was held Sunday June 11. Entrance to Korasan is free and parking, also free, is available on the street along the route to Kora Taisho. There is a small parking lot near Kora Taisho, although the hydrangea park is closer to the bottom of the mountain, near a pond full of koi and turtles.
Article by 'helloalissa' at www.city-cost.com
Korasan Ajisai Matsuri information site (Japanese)
Senkoji Festival information site (Japanese)