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

Hydrangeas at Hakusan Shrine in 2020

Another day of good luck/bad luck with my photography. I had been expecting it to rain, but when I woke up and looked out the window the skies looked cloudy, but not of the rain type. Hurriedly I checked the weather forecast on the TV and saw the previous day’s forecast had changed, not rain all day but only in the very late afternoon. So, I decided to take a chance and get to Hakusan Shrine, to photograph its Hydrangea Festival. That plan worked out fairly well, but not perfectly.

Being a Sunday, it was really crowded. As I had only ever been there on a weekday, I wasn’t prepared to see so many people. A lot of stalls, and a nice band providing music for everyone. In previous years where it had been easy to take pictures anywhere, this year was not the case. From Hakusan Station to the entrance of the shrine, there were people everywhere.

After getting into the crowd and having taken only few pictures I looked up and saw some grey clouds gathering and knew that at least some rain was on the way. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take as many pictures as I wanted especially with the amount of people around me, so I took what I was able to.

During the Hydrangea Festival, lots of people come to pray at the shrine

The plants, I thought, were in great shape. They were probably the best I had ever seen them at Hakusan. And luckily being overcast, the light was not harsh at all, which made them look even better.

There were two places there I really wanted to photograph, but was unable to. One was the shrine, and the other was small hill (actually mound might be better to describe it, that is covered in the flowers. Both were incredibly crowded with very long lines and I just couldn’t justify waiting especially with the weather deteriorating.

This time I noticed something new at Hakusan Shrine. It has sake barrels, just like Meiji Shrine! Not a lot, but a quite a few. Probably, I never noticed them because I’ve only ever been there during the hydrangea season and was more focused on the plants.

After having spent about thirty minutes there, the rain started and I knew I had to make a decision. My camera is weather-resistant, but that doesn’t make it waterproof. As I wasn’t quite sure how long the rain could last or how heavy it would fall, I decided to head for home. Better safe than sorry in my book.

With my regular days off being Wednesday and Thursday, if the weather fines up, I will try going there again. However according to the long-range weather forecast, Japan is in for an exceptionally wet 2020, so that plan might not work out. We’ll just have to see what happens.

As always, if you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the section below. And if you are in Tokyo and a a flower lover, I’d strongly suggest you check this festival out as it is very nice, provided the weather is kind!