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A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Hydrangeas at Hakusan shrine

The entrance to Hakusan shrine in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward

Last week, I went to Hakusan shrine in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward to see its Hydrangea Festival. The shrine and the area around it isn't very big, but over 3000 of these beautiful flowers were cramped in there. It was a very colourful place for about ten days!

From what I've read there seems to be two main types of hydrangea.  One is shaped like a pom-pom, or maybe a soccer ball? The other is flat with a centre core surrounded by an outer ring of flowers.  Both are very nice.

Hakusan shrine isn't only about hydrangeas, there are some foxes there as well

I got to the shrine early, before 8 am but even on an early weekday morning, it was quite busy.  There were a lot of people in business attire who dropped in to have a quick look, pray and then go to work.   They must have been very keen.

And there were many people with cameras, so many different types.  There were twin-lens reflexes, analogue, medium-formats as well as little compacts and everything else in between.  It was like walking into a camera shop!

If you ever go to the festival make sure you check out the entire area. Across the path from the shrine, you'll find a small hill covered with hydrangeas that is only open during the festival period. And the road from the station was lined with lots of little shops, restaurants and cafes. I need to go back and explore it more!

Tokyo is such a good city for flower festivals with so many throughout the year. Over the years I've been to quite a few, but after my visit to Hakusan shrine, the Hydrangea Festival is now firmly in my top five! No need to worry if you missed it this time as it is an annual event and will return again in June in 2017.