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Hanami of a different hue

April 29, 2008

If you thought that hanami season finished when the last of the cherry blossoms fell, think again.  Even though Japan’s most famous blossoms are gone for another year, there are still chances to enjoy a hanami picnic before the sultry heat of summer kicks in.

Following signs off the beaten track to the Hiyoshi shrine in Tamana, Kumamoto prefecture, we found the Yamada wisteria (山田藤).  The many vines, some of them reputedly over 200 years old, form a canopy over the shrine’s grounds – a pergola in purple.

Wisteria over the shrine torii

Golden Week is a perfect time to see it, occuring as it does right around the start of wisteria’s flowering season, and I’d imagine that that has contributed to the Yamada wisteria’s huge popularity.

Canopy of wisteria over lawns leading up to Hiyoshi shrine

The lawns under the fragrant flowers were packed with picnicking folk, enjoying an al fresco lunch on blue sheets.

Hanami in purple

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