“Ajisai” is one of early summer feature especially in the rainy season in Japan. There are many sightseeing place called, “ajisai-dera” which is temple with plenty of “ajisai. ” This is how much they are popular in Japan and have planted at many places like a park or temple for ornamental purpose.
The origin of “ajisai(hydrangea)” is Japan, in fact. It is said that the original species was “gaku-ajisai” which existed from Nara era. Needless to say, it has long history more than you expected. However, “gaku-ajisai” was not so popular at that time. On the contrary, it was completely neglected for more than 1,000 years. Someone even call it “yurai-bana(means ghost flower!)” because most of them color somber blue.
Despite of the unpopularity like that, “ajisai” had gained a lot of popularity thanks to breed improvement in Europe by the time of Taisho era. It is called “western ajisai” to distinguish from its origin. However, our favorite “ajisai” is actually means “western ajisai” not “gaku-ajisai” nowadays. In fact, there are many people does not know what exactly “gaku-ajisai” look like especially for young generation. Perhaps they do not even know the existence of “gaku-ajisai.”
By the way, “ajisai” is also called “shichihenge(various changes)” because the flower changes their color from the beginning to the end. However, it is said the color differences depend on the type of soil. To be specific, if the flowers are planted in the acid soil, the color would be more bluish. Meanwhile, if its alkali soil, the color would be more reddish. Though most likely the colors change from pale-green at the beginning, white, indigo blue, and rose-pink at the end. Personally, I think the term of indigo blue is the most beautiful! Probably it’s because the term of blue is the longest one out of those color changing routine, so you can enjoy looking at them for long period of time.
The rainy season in Japan is not good time for anybody because there’s nothing but a high humidity. It will make you so uncomfortable and irritating. However, you can only see “ajisai” for those time of the year and the existence of those beautiful flowers make you feel much better for sure and that is why people love so much “ajisai.”
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