Monday, May 7, 2012

Checking Things Off My List...

Because this is our last full year in Japan, last year I started making a list of all the things I must see in Japan before we leave.  If I found out about things that I missed, I just added them to my list. One of the things on my list was to see as many of the  flower "hotspots" as I could.  In this past week, I went to two of them! After cherry blossom season it is  azalea and wisteria season and I wasn't going to miss them this year!

One afternoon after Chris and I got off work we headed to "Azalea Mountain." He is such a wonderful husband to drive about 45 minutes after a long day at work to take me to go see flowers. :)  We loaded up on snacks from Family Mart and we were off!  We knew we were almost there because we could see the azalea covered mountain from the road.  Not only were the azaleas beautiful, but the sight from on top of the mountain was pretty spectacular!  Here are some pictures:

Azaleas as far as the eye could see... in every imaginable color!

Just loved the "Boys Day" carp flags flying above the azaleas.

Such a fun weekday road trip... he's just the best!

After many tries with the tripod, we finally got one we liked!!

My second flower on my list was wisteria... I actually saw pictures of this amazing "Wisteria Tunnel" on Pinterest and when I realized that it was not only in Japan, but on our island and only three hours away, Chris decided we should go for my birthday weekend!  We woke up early on Saturday morning, took a three hour train ride to a place we never heard of and crossed our fingers that we were going to the right place.  We were quite relived when the shuttle bus pulled us up to the gardens and we saw the wisteria.  The gardens were divided into three areas: an arbor, a dome, and two tunnels.  Each area was so beautiful!  Until Saturday I thought wisteria only grew in purple (I found out that it can be white and pink) and I didn't know that they smell so delicious!

The wisteria arbor... I loved that everyone was picnicking!  

Inside the arbor

We also learned that wisteria grows from a tree (not a vine).

The wisteria dome... we felt like we were inside a bee hive!

Inside the tunnel

Look at those colors!

Chris had to leave on Sunday morning for a three week class in Rhode Island, but there was still one more "flower" place I needed to see. So I called up my friend Christine to see if her family wanted to join me on a road trip.  We set out for a different azalea mountain, one that my Japanese student, Yasuko, visited and told me about.  There was a festival and Sunday was the last day.  We were proud of ourselves after our forty five minute drive when we saw shuttle buses and banners.  We loaded the bus and it took us to the entrance of the gardens.  While we were in line we noticed that the entrance fee was reduced, but we didn't know why. We quickly found out when we got to the front of the line that the azaleas were no longer in bloom. WHAT?!?! How can that be?  The festival was supposed to go until Sunday!  I quickly realized that these sweet Japanese people aren't in charge of the azaleas blooming and dying, so we paid the reduced price and went right on in, even though we were a little disappointed.  We did have a fun time on our road trip, though, and that made up for not seeing the azaleas! 

This is what we were supposed to see... yes, I took a picture of a picture. 

And this is what we saw instead...

Standing in front of the "not blooming" azaleas  with my friend Christine and her kids!

Even though our last place really didn't have any flowers, I had an amazing week exploring Japan and enjoying God's beautiful creation!!  

The entire time I was looking at the azaleas and wisteria, I kept thinking, "my mom would just love this." So this blog is for you, mom... just in time for Mother's Day!  Even though you couldn't be here, I wanted you to see these beautiful flowers! I love you!!