Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City

Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine: Blue ajisai road 1

It’s Mrs. Wada again, on duty. How’s everybody doing? It’s currently rainy season in Japan. If you like flowers and you are in Japan in this season, it is a good time to check out Ajisai flower festivals.

Are you familiar with Ajisai? In English, it is called Hydrangea. It looks like this.

Kibitsu Shrine Ajisai Festival: Blue

When I hear the word “Ajisai”, the first place to come up to my mind is Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture. I’ve seen it many times being featured on TV. (Kamakura is the place where you can find the giant Buddha statue.)

Well, Kamakura is way too far from where I live now. So I searched for places within Okayama where there are a lot of ajisai flowers. I found two places, one is in Kurashiki City and another one is in Kibitsu Shrine within Okayama City. Although the one in Kurashiki City boasts for its 30,000 ajisai trees (shrubs?), compared to the one in Kibitsu Shrine which has around 1,300~1,500 trees, I decided to go to Kibitsu Shrine this time because it’s the closest one and the same direction towards our next destination which I introduced below.

Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies – The Wadas On Duty

Kibitsu Shrine in Okayama City

I went there by car, but you can also get there by train. It’s 14-minute train travel from Okayama Station and around 10 minutes of walk from Kibitsu Station towards the shrine.

As you enter the road towards the shrine, you’ll see a huge parking area. There is a shortcut to go directly to where the ajisai flowers are located. But since we are already here, let’s enter from the main entrance and check out Kibitsu Shrine.

Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City: Main Entrance (Full shot)
Main Entrance

There are two stairways and a huge red gate in between to pass before reaching the main building of the shrine. As we arrived on top, we went on left side to explore more of the shrine where you can see a good view of the main building. (The right side of the praying area leads to the corridor where Ajisai Festival is being held.)

More Photos inside Kibitsu Shrine:

Let’s go and check the Ajisai Festival!

Now, let’s walk down through the 360-meter long corridor.

Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City: 360-m corridor

Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama: 360-meter corrigidor
I particularly like this spot.

Right in the middle of the corridor, you’ll see a torii  (a traditional Japanese gate) and behind the torii is another long stairway. You can check the flowers as you go up. This area is all covered with ajisai flowers. Now let’s go!

Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine: Starting point

We took time taking photos, checking each flower in different colors. It always amazes me to see this kind of place, were people can just come over and enjoy the scenery, for free!

Different colors of Ajisai:

At the end of the stairway is a small shrine called Iwayama-no-miya. There are benches also where you can take a break.

Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City: Iwayama-no-miya (Hokora)
Iwayama-no-miya (a small shrine)

From there you can explore more of the surrounding, tracing the narrow pathways like a maze. There are more blue ajisai flowers.

Kibitsu Shrine Ajisai Festival: Blue Road

The number of ajisai trees in Kibitsu Shrine might not be that many compared to other locations but this place is quite compact, so you don’t have to walk that much to check the entire area.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. When you get the chance, check the Ajisai Festival in Kibitsu Shrine or maybe there is one nearby your place for a relaxing weekend.

Kibitsu Shrine Information

Hours:
08:30 – 16:30 (Weekdays)
08:00 – 17:00 (Weekends and Holidays)

Website: http://kibitujinja.com/
Area Map: http://kibitujinja.com/map/

Directions

Address: 931 Kibitsu Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama-ken 701-1341
Nearest station: JR Kibitsu Station (Kibi Line)
By car: about 25 minutes
By train and walking: about 30 minutes

 

 

You may want to check these out as well!
Bike Trail at Kibi Plain
Strawberry Picking in Okayama
Hokubo, Maniwa City: Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies
Hinase Oyster Festival
Okayama Kyobashi Morning Market

Hokubo, Maniwa City: Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa: Lamp light

Hi guys, Mrs. Wada is here, back on duty. It’s already June, half way of the year. Times flies right? Speaking of June, it is a season for firefly watching in Japan as I have mentioned in my post here. Nowadays, we don’t see fireflies anymore possibly due to habitat loss from urbanization, so I’m lucky to be able to see them by just traveling an hour from where I live.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the moveAt Bicchuu River – Hokubo, Maniwa City

Last year I visited Takashi City in Okayama Prefecture to see fireflies for the first time. Amazed by it, I’ve been looking forward to seeing it this year again and this time we explored another place, Hokubo in Maniwa City, still within Okayama Prefecture.

Japanese Fireflies Habitat in Hokubo, Maniwa City

Hokubo, Maniwa City is an hour away from Okayama City. We arrived in Hobuko past 5 P.M. and parked in Hokubo Hotaru Park. There were still few cars in the parking area at that time. Since fireflies start to appear or be visible around 8:30 in the evening, we still have a lot of time to kill. We decided to walk our way back to the central area to get some food.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Hotaru no Sato“Hotaru no Sato” (Home of the Fireflies) sign – on the way to Hokubo Hotaru Park

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: River

The river is mostly covered with grasses, which is a perfect habitat for fireflies. The water flows on the right side, not visible in this photo. Many lamp stands are installed on the riverside.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Hotaru Road

Not too far from the Hokubo Hotaru Park is the central area. We passed this road on the way to the park. There are some food stalls organized by local residents just for this season. We bought yakitori (grilled chicken) and yakisoba for our dinner. There are traditional Japanese hotels also in this area.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Food stands

We went back to the park and had our dinner. At around 7 P.M., the parking area is already full and many people are waiting on standby at the riverside. Just take a look at those people standing on the bridge in the picture below.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: People on standy

We went down closer to the river to look for a spot. It’s where we met this woman who kindly taught us the camera setting for shooting fireflies. I totally forgot to research about it beforehand. So, we were really glad to have met her.

Camera Settings for Shooting Fireflies

Here’s the information the woman taught us:
– Set shutter speed to 35 seconds
– Set aperture to the lowest possible value. (With my camera, I can only set minimum of F3.5.)

She also said something about distance and focus, but I couldn’t understand well. I was just guessing the entire time about it.

Japanese Fireflies Shots

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the move

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the move

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the move

Those are the best shots I could take. It’s really difficult to take pictures of fireflies especially without a tripod. I actually did brought a tripod but somehow I lost the part that holds the camera. So I have to hold it and keep still for 30 seconds every time I take photo and wait more for saving.

Breathtaking Fireflies Experience

It was amazing to see a large number of fireflies flying and blinking together just a few meters away. A magical moment. We were so captivated with the breathtaking view that we got lost track of time. It was already past 10:30 P.M.

When we left, there were still many fireflies flying. We bid farewell to the woman we’ve met. She said fireflies will be active again from 11 P.M., so she’s planning to stay longer to get good shots.

More Information

Below is the walking directions from the main street to Hotaru Park. This almost 2-kilometer long area of the Bicchuu River is the spot where fireflies can be seen.

If you are here in Japan now, I highly recommend to visit these places and experience the magical moment with fireflies with your own eyes. For information about where to find these places, you can check Jalan’s firefly information page here (Japanese only).

Just a favor, please keep in mind the following during firefly watching:

– Do not use flash when taking photos.
– Do not capture the fireflies.
– Do not step into the river.
– Make sure to take your garbage with you when you leave the area.

Do you still see fireflies in the area where you live? Share with us your fireflies experience.

Resources:
Hokubo Maniwa Website
Jalan – Firefly Watching Spots

 

You may want to check these out as well!
Bike Trail at Kibi Plain
Strawberry Picking in Okayama
Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City
Hinase Oyster Festival
Okayama Kyobashi Morning Market