On May 15th, I published a little story about the blaze of azaleas (tsutsuji) blooming all over Kansai. Special emphasis was on the gorgeous bushes still blooming right outside my Smith’s School of English Franchise in Kotoen. These Kansai blossom festivals are a major attraction every year and amazing celebrations are often over-looked.
Obviously, it isn’t necessary to go on about the cherry blossom season (sakura) too much. Everyone knows what a huge success that was this year. In addition to nearly perfect weather the whole time, a new variety of cherry blossom was identified here in Kansai at the end of March.
Two Other Kansai Blossom Festivals To Consider
In addition to the spring Peonia (Botan) Festival at Hasedera in the south of Nara Prefecture, the major Hyogo Prefecture favorite gets surprisingly few visitors most week days. It is the glorious summit of Mt. Rokko reachable by car, bus or funicular from central Kobe. Mt. Rokko has amazing views of the city and the whole place is alive with flowers. English conversation students at my franchise english school enjoy the countless outdoor activities available to all. Hiking trails suitable for all ages blanket the recreational area.
Azaleas are everywhere to be seen but soon the hydrangea (ajisai) will begin to appear. In fact, by the time you read this the pink and blue half-sphere blooms will already be evident in many gardens. The color of any particular hydrangea plant is neither random nor genetic. It is linked to the acidity of the soil so it’s just like nature’s own litmus test. They are, however very poisonous so be careful of your pets.
The photo is of a Chaenomeles (boke), a member of the rose family. These have an extraordinary color and are cultivated by caring citizens in our community. When I meet them again, I’ll be sure to let them all know how much we appreciate efforts to make our neighborhood beautiful.
Take care and enjoy the comfortable season!
Martin Werner Zander
Smith’s School of English Kotoen