Minamisawa Ajisai (Hydrangea) Mountain is a mountain located in Akiruno City, a 30 minute drive from Akiruno Interchange or 40 minute hike from JR Musashi-Itsukaichi Station is renowned for its bigleaf hydrangeas. Unlike its name, "Mountain", this place is actually not a mountain, but more like a forest where over 10,000 hydrangeas have been planted on the hillside in the valley, by a local man, Chuichi Minamisawa, who has been planting them for half a century.
Heaps and Heaps of Hydrangea
The trails that lead from the station to Minamisawa Hydrangea (Ajisai) Mountain are easily marked both in Japanese and English with wooden dwarfs sometimes popping here and there as if to greet the hikers. After exiting the ticket gate at JR Musashi-Itsukaichi Station, go to the north exit on the right. Once going up the stairs, follow the signs to the mountain. It is 2600meters or about a 40minutes walk to Minamisawa Hydrangea Mountain. Those wanting to take a nice easy way by using a shuttle bus should get out of the South Exit.
Shuttle buses operate infrequently, and checking the schedule online here (only available in Japanese) is best advised.
While most of the trails that wind up the side of the mountain through a cedar forest are covered in classical blues, there are other colors like pink and white. During the blooming seasons from mid-June to early July, many visit the mountain to witness the magnificent blossoms of the hydrangea which create a magical panorama. This is private property only open to the public for this special season and a climbing fee used for mountain maintenance and upkeep is required to visit.
It was only about 50 years ago that hydrangeas began to be grown in this mountain. Chuichi Minamisawa, whose family has lived in this area for generations, decided to plant two hydrangeas thinking that it would be better if he could walk through the flowers to visit the graves. At first, he planted them along the road from his house to the cemetery, but eventually he expanded the area around the road. Whenever his relatives visited, they were amazed by the hydrangeas, and when he saw that passersby also enjoyed the "beauty" of the hydrangeas, he wanted to please everyone. So he increased the number and variety of hydrangeas. By taking care of the hydrangeas for more than half a century, eventually, the entire mountain was covered with heaps and heaps of hydrangeas. It now became a hotspot with flooding visitors annually during the blossoming seasons.
Chuichi Minamisawa, the owner and the legendary man who made Minamisawa Hydrangea Mountain
Mid June to early July. Dates vary by years so check the webpage here (Japanese only)
Adult 500 yen
Children 300 yen
30 to 40 minutes walk from Musashi-Itsukaichi Station on JR Line
infrequent shuttle bus (250yen per person) Bus schedule can be found here (only available in Japanese)