The moats of Maizuru Park are at their most beautiful this time of year. The heat that brings on such dread in many residents also has its advantages: it ushers in the lotus season. The park’s waters are currently playing host to the rich-green leaves of the lotus plants, and two hues of water lily (pale yellow and vibrant pink); these emerge in late April and continue to bloom proudly throughout the summer (until late September). But it is the lotus flowers, their petals a brilliant white with rosy tips, that steal the show.
Lotus flowers usually start blooming around the end of June, and are at their most plentiful in July, so it is now prime time for lotus-viewing (kanrensetsu) at Maizuru park. If you’re an early bird, then you have the opportunity to view one of the most magical sites in the botanical world. At dawn, the lotuses all open together to greet the sun. It is said that, if it’s quiet enough, you can hear the crack of the lotuses pulling-apart their petals in unison. At dusk, they tuck their petals away, ready for bed. An individual flower will die after three to five days, but the park’s emerald waters will be coated in 26,000m² lotuses for the whole of July. After this, they will slowly withdraw from the limelight, disappearing completely in early October.
Walking along the outskirts of Maizuru Park, you experience a pleasantly curious juxtaposition: to one side cars fly past you, anxious to make the green light, and on the other, dragonflies skim the pond, playing amongst the pink and yellow petals. If you’re less into poetic dichotomies, then the flowers can also be viewed from within the park proper. Here the trees cut out the street noise, allowing you to fully appreciate the tranquility that the blossom-filled moat brings. It is rare to be able to see so many lotus flowers, or indeed water lilies, in the center of a city, let alone in such a bustling economic and social hub as Tenjin.
The park never closes, so we encourage you to try and catch either the opening or the closing of the lotus blooms during their peak season (July). That’s the best time to contemplate the lotus and all they have come to symbolize: in Buddhism, these flowers (which grow pure white out of opaque waters) represent the shaking off of our worldly cares in order to reach Nirvana. They are also used to illustrate the cycle of rebirth, for although the blossom lives for only a short while, the plant itself can live for over a thousand years.
If the impossible occurs and your eyes tire of looking out at the sea of delicate blossoms, then don’t forget that these moats are also home to richly-coloured water lilies. So take your camera, friends and maybe even a chilled bottle of sake, and enjoy the beauty of these floating flowers.