Vivid Hydrangea now blooming in northern Okinawa

 By Bill Charles

More than 9,000 hyrdangea flowers of some 30 different varieties are now in bloom in a private park in Motobu.

As spring moves toward summer, the floral landscape of northern Okinawa is taking on new colors as hydrangea flowers are now bursting into full bloom.

The hyrdangea also attracts colorful butterflies to party.

Thousands of the brilliantly colored hydrangea are sporting their petals on a 9,900 square meters plot of Motobu land once filled with tangerine trees.  The hydrangea will be in bloom through the end of June, and the property owners are inviting visitors.  Admission to the floral landscape is ¥300 for adults and ¥100 for children 6 ~ 18 during daylight hours.

The Ajisai-en’s purple flowers are the handiwork of Uto Yohena, a 96-year-old lady who’s been toiling at raising and perfecting the flowers for more than three decades. “My garden was actually a tangerine field

The hydrangea garden is located in a valley between Nago and Motobu, and used to grow tangerines until 31 years ago.

until 31 years ago,” she explains, noting “I love flowers so I planted the hydrangea flower garden along the paths between the tangerine trees.” Eventually, the flowers began dominating the tangerine trees and the garden grew.

There are now more than 9,000 hydrangea in the park in Motobu Town’s Izumi area, with a total of 78 species or varieties of hydrangea. Says Yohena, “I’ve got three dozen of them.” Many are a bit taller than three meters high, but she points out “my garden is a member of the nationwide Hydrangea Flower Association, and my garden won sixth best from the West District Japan Hydrangea Garden Contest only five years ago.”

Yohena patiently explains to visitors how “in my garden the hydrangea change colors depending on the soil’s acidity rate,” noting that most grow very well. “There are many colors blooming, like pink, white and blue, and all together, more than 30 colors are now showing in my flowers.”

Tourists are invited to drop by and visit, with the garden open most days. Admission, as noted, is ¥300 for adults and ¥100 for kids 6~18. Says Yohena, “I had to begin asking visitors to pay an entrance fee ten years ago, because operating the garden requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance, and that means expenses.”

Parking is available near the gardens. To reach Ajisai-en, drive north past central Nago on Highway 58, then turn left toward Motobu and Ocean Expo Park on Route 84. Continue until you see a Jomo gasoline station on the right and a police box on the left. Turn immediately left, and Ajisai-en is on the left about 200 meters down the road.