Hydrangeas at Myohoji in 2017
One of the last places for me to see hydrangeas in 2017 was at Myōhōji shrine in Tokyo's Suginami ward, where I live, as I heard its hydrangea garden is quite beautiful. Even though I got there very late in the season and many of the flowers were starting to fade under the summer sun, I was very glad I went as there were enough flowers still in a good enough condition to photograph. It made the hour’s walk to get here well worth it.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Myōhōji was built in the early 1600s. Today, the temple lies in a quiet residential area but you can see a lot of local people there chatting to others, or praying. It is a great place and, in my opinion, everything a Japanese temple should be. The complex has lots of trees and there is that classic main hall in the traditional architectural style, long outdoor corridors and you can often hear the monks/priest chanting inside the buildings. What I really enjoyed though was talking to some of the people. I walked by and they looked at me right in the eye, and wished me a good morning with what seemed a real, genuine smile. No shyness or hesitation. A real local place where everyone seemed to be welcome.
The hydrangeas were what I came for though, but once again I cursed my inability to get up at the crack of dawn. Getting up later than planned might be nice, but it always means that the light won’t be the best for photography when arriving at your destination. Still, I got there early enough and there was no one there, but me. It was great to have an entire garden to myself for a change.
Most of the flowers were arranged in a square around a field, which was filled with irises in the middle. There was also another group of hydrangeas near one of the gates on either side of the path lined with lanterns. You could easily tell that the gardeners there spend a lot of time looking after the plants.
While I was photographing I tried some panoramic shots, handheld, two pictures to take in a wide scene and then stitched them together in Lightroom. I think they worked out well, but my technique needs a little work as the shot of the main hall clearly has a bow in the roof. In retrospect, the gate with the hydrangeas and stone lanterns either side certainly warranted a shot of this type, but at the time that thought just didn’t occur to me.
With the hot summer days approaching quickly, I think in Tokyo at least, the hydrangea season will certainly be over by the end of this week. If you want to see Myōhōji’s (Japanese) website you can see it here.