One thing I notice when May comes is the beautiful blooming of flowers, especially the vast azalea gardens everywhere in Kansai. In much of the northern hemisphere, May is the high point of spring. In Japan as well as across Europe, the highly-revered flower gardens are on full display.
People love the azalea in Japan because of a small but very important historical fact. Several of the largest flower gardens in the Tokyo area feature hectares of azaleas around this time, and a record number of varieties have bloomed at these places annually for over 300 years. Azaleas are really easy to care for and they provide a very strong hedge to help protect buildings and private areas.
Great Places to View Azalea Gardens Everywhere Kansai
While the largest are in the Kanto area, finding azalea gardens everywhere in Kansai is just as easy. Since there is more green, open space in Kansai, it is common to see them in front of homes or lining major streets. A popular strategy is to visit flower festivals at temples and shrines. Walk around your neighborhood or the roof tops of major buildings if you’re in Osaka.
The picture above shows the magnificent azalea bush right out front my Smith’s School of English franchise in Kotoen. Azaleas are everywhere around here and my students and I have been commenting on them non-stop for several days now. Since the garden at my school faces north, it gets a slightly lower amount of sunlight and the flowers bloom just a few days later than most in the area.
One of my students is a botanical artist. She has with great effort made some extraordinary drawings and paintings of flowers indigenous to Japan. It seems there are many rare varieties, and botanists are always trying to develop new ones.
Martin Werner Zander
Smith’s School of English Kotoen