Things are heating up in Hyogo, and it’s getting rainy. With umbrella in hand, there are plenty of things to enjoy outdoors; flower gardens are a particular specialty. If you can’t make it to Mimuroto-ji in Kyoto, there are some nice flowery places closer to home. We’ve already mentioned the Shiso Iris Garden before (just a bus ride away), but it bears repeating! Many varieties of iris are water-loving plants that bloom best in the rainy month of June. Hours are nine to six, entry is 800 yen! They also have some nighttime lightup dates. Direct buses begin running from Sannomiya on 6/1 (check the flower park website for the schedule: http://www.hanashoubu.or.jp/), and buses to Shiso run frequently from Himeji! (http://www.hyogoajet.net/hyogotimes/2012/04/25/harima-happenings-shiso/)

There is also the Kasai Flower Center (http://www.flower-center.pref.hyogo.jp/) in the east side of Harima, which has flower events and displays all year round!

Himeji’s Yukata Festival (http://www.hyogo-tourism.jp/english/whatsnew/index.php?id=149) will be happening at the end of the month, so get ready to roll out your Japanese summer wear. June 22nd to 24th, you can meander through town, indulging in stall food and other festival fineries.

By Emily Lemmon

Shiso-shi ALT 2009-2012, Editor of Hyogo Times, PSG volunteer, and organizer of Hyogo's PEPY Ride 2010-2011. Lemmon also blogs, reads, studies Japanese, and takes Shorinji Kempo.