Hydrangea (known as Ajisai in Japanese) has a long history in Japan. According to Japanese legend, the hydrangea has been associated with genuine emotion, gratitude and apology. It is said that an emperor was so busy doing business that he neglected a girl he loved deeply. To make up for it, he gave her blue hydrangeas as a symbol of his sincere apology and gratitude.
Because they bloom most vigorously during the Japanese rainy season (June and early July), ajisai are traditionally associated with this season. Every year, they transform places like Meigetsuin Temple into a mystical and fragrant garden. During this season, all parts of Japan become more colorful with different shades of blue, pink, purple and white just like spring.
But hydrangea is not only an ornamental flower! In Japanese culture, amacha, which translates as sweet tea, is a hydrangea-based tea. On April 8 every year, amacha is prepared during the Buddha bathing ceremony, called kan-butsue. It is said in the legend that when Buddha was born, nine dragons covered him with amrita. In modern times, amacha is used as a substitute for amrita.