Aug. 24, 2017 UPDATE
The first day of summer in Kyoto
Part 3

How to get through the rainy season in Kyoto

The rainy season, tsuyu in Japanese, starts in Kyoto around June. Kyoto is surrounded by mountains, so in summer it is really hot, and during the rainy season, Kyoto is also not only that but also extremely humid.

The rainy days may seem a bit depressing, but since you are in Kyoto, you should take the maximum out of your trip. For those kinds of days, I have some temples that look great on a rainy day and a few words about the events where you can enjoy the hydrangea flowers, which in Japan are associated with the rainy season.
1The temples with beautiful moss and rock gardens that should be visited on a rainy day
rainy days
The temples that should be visited on rainy days are famous for their moss or rock gardens. The moss that grows from between the rocks and on the trees is actually really important for Japanese gardens.
The moss has an even deeper green gloss when it rains. The “moss temples” of Kyoto are places you should visit on a rainy day or at least the next day! This way you get to see the moss at its best.
rock gardens
Besides the moss, also the rock gardens of the temples of Kyoto look even better on rainy days. The way light reflects from the wet stones of the rock gardens is something that makes you ponder about the deeper questions in life. The temples below are especially worth a visit if it rains, so remember to check the weather forecast!
Gio-ji Temple
Gio-ji Temple
This small temple in Sagano is called Gio-ji Temple. This temple is known as a great off the beaten path place to see autumn leaves, but the moss carpet of the temple is something you have to see in the beginning of summer. The well-taken care of moss garden will make you forget even the passage of time. On a rainy day the wet moss carpet almost sparkles with light.
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
This temple is also in Sagano, although this one is a bit harder to get to, since this temple is even further away from the closest station than Gio-ji Temple. This temple is famous for its rakan Buddhist statues of which there are well over one thousand. They are cute with their unique expressions and poses. How about taking a walk to see these cute statues covered with moss?
Ryoan-ji Temple
Ryoan-ji Temple
Ryoan-ji Temple may be the place with the most famous rock garden in the whole of Kyoto. This rock garden is special because of the 15 rocks that are placed on the white pebbles. This is a great place to quietly meditate on a rainy day while listening to the rain hitting the rocks of the garden. This moving experience can only be had on a rainy day.
2Rainy season means hydrangea flowers! Recommended hydrangea festivals in Kyoto
Hydrangea is the flower most often associated with the rainy season in Japan. The flowers are big and ball-shaped, and at their best during the rainy season. If you are in Kyoto in June, I really wish you can get to see the magical sight made possible by both hydrangea flowers and temples. During this time period, there are also many great events where you can enjoy the hydrangea flowers.
Hydrangea festival at Sanzen-in Temple
Hydrangea festival at Sanzen-in Temple
Sanzen-in Temple is in Ohara, an area famous for its nature. At this temple, you can enjoy flowers all through the year, but the temple is especially famous for hydrangeas. Every year in June they open their hydrangea garden with around 3,000 hydrangeas in it for visitors to enjoy during the hydrangea festival. The vibrant colors of the flowers contrast nicely with the green spring maple leaves.
Mimuroto-ji Temple’s hydrangea illumination event
Mimuroto-ji Temple’s hydrangea illumination event
There are so many flowers at Mimuroto-ji Temple that it is sometimes called the “temple of flowers.” In June the 10,000 hydrangeas of the temple bloom and entertain the visitors to the temple. At night the flowers planted between the Japanese cedar trees are illuminated and the view of them at night is magical.
Some people may be worried about rain when they plan their trip to Kyoto, but I’m sure by reading the aforementioned suggestions that by now you know that there is a lot to do in Kyoto even if it rains. I hope that you will take the chance to go see some temples and gardens even if it rains, and enjoy a different type of day out in Kyoto, and maybe afterwards reward yourself with a nice dinner.

Page Top